So just when I thought I might be able to retire my elves, my girls were gifted a Mensch on the Bench. (This is what happens when your Catholic children provide a detailed report of every elf move for two years to their Jewish grandma.) And so they tore into their first gift of the holiday season a couple of weeks ago to discover a little old Jewish man dressed for temple. Super excited for an early gift, although a bit dumbfounded, they exclaimed, “What is it? What does he do?” Grandma patiently explained that a Mensch is a “good guy,” someone people respect for his kindness and that this Mensch will keep watch over their menorah and make sure it burns bright.
My husband rolled his eyes and graciously tried to decline the gift. “That’s great, Ma. We will visit him next time we come over and the kids can see where you hid it…in your house.” I gave him the evil eye which he also politely ignored, and the girls continued their inquisition.
“The box says we have to move it which means we can touch it!” (Score one for the Mensch. I don’t have to move it. Woo Hoo!) “It says if we don’t move him, he will get sore,” my little one said perplexed. “What does that mean? Why will he get sore?”
“Well, he’s sitting on the bench all day long,” Grandma expertly explained. “His tuchus will hurt! You have to move him so he can stretch.” I saw the look of disgust roll across my husband’s face and giggled. Sitting on one strange old man’s lap and asking for gifts is bad enough. Now they needed to help another old guy stretch so his ass won’t ache. Two holidays in one month and nobody wants to keep it real.
“I wonder when our elves will come back,” the older one pondered. “Boy are they going to surprised when they meet our Mensch!”
Screwed. Screwed again. That is all I could think. I had hidden my elves so well last year that I had no idea where they were. When Thanksgiving came and went and then December 1 rolled by with no elf reappearance, my kids were actually accepting the notion that their elves might be needed on an important mission somewhere else. (Yes, because Christmas is not all about you!) For a few days, I listened to my kids tell the Mensch all about the elves and then I accepted the fact that I had been thwarted yet again. Heaven forbid the Mensch sit on his lonely old bench and guard our menorah without the company of two shiksa elves, so I dug them out and let the insanity take hold of our home once again.
It’s not that I hate the elves, it’s just that I am bad at the elves. I admit it is nice to wake up to my children’s squeals of joy when they discover the new elf spot, but I just can’t get my act together at night and I forget and then I forget again and again and again. It shouldn’t be that hard–my kids aren’t looking for anything complex; a simple move from here to there is enough for them which is good because that is all that they are going to get…if they are lucky. I often wonder how people have the energy or the interest to painstakingly place their elf on the toilet and float peppermint elf turds in bowl. I won’t get started on what kind of sick crap that is (pun intended), but I will admit that when I think of people doing this, I am both intrigued and irritated. Just wait until it falls in and your kid discovers his drowned elf. Meanwhile, you have to fish out your new and improved pee-pee scented doll and the half melted peppermints at the bottom of the bowl. Really? Clearly, elf antics do not bring out my Christmas spirit, and as someone who genuinely loves the holiday, I have to work hard to keep my personal priorities in joyful focus. If only I just could remember to move the damned elves!
In any event, my kids forget to move their Mensch regularly which makes me feel a little better. We can all be slackers together. Hopefully the Mensch won’t get a hemorrhoid before Hanukkah; sitting is hard business, you know. Luckily for him, he and the elves have become fast friends and they take him along for the ride…Watch out, Santa, there’s a new Sugar Daddy in town and he knows how to keep those candles burning!
I accept that this tradition makes my kids happy and I do my half-assed best. Luckily and in spite of his initial protests, my husband has been quietly moving the happy trio when I fail, although I did overhear him begrudgingly tell my daughter that if someone tries to gift her a pope-on-the rope or any other such nonsense next year, she is to politely decline.
Happy Christmakah, everyone! May all of your traditions–old and new–bring you joy!