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Tales from the Motherhood: Personal elf helps make season merry

Some people have personal shoppers. I have a personal elf.

Miss Holly was in a decorating frenzy Tuesday night, so she donned her Santa hat and we sang along to James Taylor's Christmas CD at the top of our lungs while she decorated the entire house and I liberated the refrigerator from what remained of our Thanksgiving feast – and enjoyed the last glass of Thanksgiving wine.  

All we’ve got left to do now is to buy and trim the tree. Holly even hung the stockings, after letting Jake and Posie choose theirs (perhaps one still smells of catnip from goodies past, as the choice was apparently clear). She decided that Santa needs to be re-educated about which stocking is hers, however.

“One year, Santa got it wrong,” she said. “My name is Holly and there’s holly on this thing, but he put Noah’s stuff in here,” she said. Right.

“Santa was tired?” I suggested. My elf rolled her eyes. Santa clearly needs to get his act together. Whatever.

Holly began decking the halls early last month, when she created beautiful paper snowflakes that now adorn our windows and wrote, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” on her dry-erase board. Then she talked me into making our annual cinnamon-scented pinecone purchase from Jewel. (OK, that was weird. It smelled like Christmas before it was even Thanksgiving.) Then, Sunday night, no doubt inspired by the festive atmosphere at Batavia’s tree-lighting celebration, she convinced her dad to help her string the garland on what’s left of our picket fence.

You know, the fence badly damaged a few weeks ago by the collision of two cars that ended up in my yard. I groaned.

“Yeah, let’s dress it up,” I said, after it was clear I’d been outvoted. “Go for it.”  Really. But it doesn’t look half-bad. Strike that. Sure it does. But now it bears a sort of shabby-chic optimism. Yeah, that’s it. The insurance adjustor finally showed up to have a look, so it’ll probably be repaired next week.
Joy to the world.

No doubt, Miss Holly will get right on it, stringing the rest of that garland onto the new fence and “making spirits bright.” God love her. She really is a wonder. Because, quite honestly, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. It turns out that my no-show plumber (remember him?) may actually have botched the installation of our new tub a few years ago, which explains the chronic leak – from our house’s only shower. Looks like that whole, costly-in-the-first-place job may need to be re-done. Merry Christmas to me. (But we’re not in Washington, Ill. How’s that for a perspective-builder?)

Still, it’s been kind of a tough year for us, but we’re having a “Holly, Jolly Christmas” in spite of it all. Hard not to, when I’ve got a little elf in a Santa hat regaling me with tales from her fifth-grade year (two years ago), when, she recalls, she and her classmates weren’t allowed to wear Santa hats for the rest of the Christmas season “because the boys were using them inappropriately.” Yes, yes indeed.

My little elf lights up my life in other ways, too. She even does windows. Not only has Holly always enjoyed washing them (go figure – but hallelujah!), but every Christmas she puts candles in them. You know, the battery-operated ones. (She even re-charges the batteries, but I digress.) She doesn’t mess around. Some folks have an “Elf on the Shelf,” but me? I’ve got the real thing.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at

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