Next, I was going to perch him on the counter and spell out "I'm Back" in skittles (yes, I steal all my ideas from my FB friends). But that greeting was taking too long, so I tried to shorten it to just "Hi" this morning at 0-dark-thirty. Except Reese came out of the bathroom sooner than I thought, so I had to abort that mission altogether.
Which was crazy, because I only have one child left who even still believes in the elf and he was sound asleep. Reese doesn't pay any attention to Ripley anymore. He could be rappelling down into our entryway on a licorice whip and she'd just walk around him and say, "Come on, Mom, I'll be in the car."
The magic is gone for Drue also, unfortunately, but she hasn't come right out and said so. She just gets a little sneer on her face and says mockingly, "Shouldn't the elf have been here by now?!" within earshot of Tate and myself. This morning, when he finally made his appearance, she said in that same tone, "I'm going to write Ripley a letter to give to Santa telling him what I want." She seriously looks like the grinch when she says it.
But I lugged myself out of bed this morning before dawn, searched the hall closet 'til I felt Ripley's jingle bell hat, and planted him downstairs for one person...innocent little Tate. I really want to try and make this an epic year for Ripley because I'm 99% sure it will be his last year a Hollaway child believes in him. Tate is definitely on the verge of figuring it all out. He almost put 2 and 2 together a few weeks ago as we were standing amongst the beautiful Christmas lights at Silver Dollar City. I quickly redirected the conversation, only because there was no way that was going to be the setting where his little dreams would be crushed.
He has started randomly stating facts about Santa and the Tooth Fairy out loud. "The Tooth Fairy has to be real, because what would parents want with our teeth? That'd just be creepy." Another sign I know the magic is nearing an end. He will soon run out of rationalizations.
So, no marshmallows and no candy messages for Ripley's grand reentry. He was simply thrown under our little tree in the entryway with no salutation whatsoever. Where I discovered George had already left a fragrant gift under the tree, as the overwhelming smell of dog pee greeted me when I bent over to place Ripley just so.
Tate has already written him a note and left him some cheezits. Which I promptly picked up after Tate left for school so the dogs wouldn't devour them. I know what's coming next, Tate will ask Ripley to make breakfast one morning. In years past, Ripley has whipped up donuts out of cheerios and pancakes the size of quarters. I'll pick up marshmallows today and try the sink bath again tomorrow.
I really want to be good at this. I love looking at elf pictures from my creative Mom friends. And for those of you who may also be struggling with this tradition, keep going. Persevere, sweet Moms. (I say Moms because the Dad of our house has maybe moved Ripley once in 5 years. And I think I was half comatose with the flu at the time). Make those sweet memories and keep that magic alive for as long as you can for your kids because one day their little feet won't come bounding down the stairs in excited anticipation to find the elf. And another chapter of their childhood will close.
Thankfully, Christmas will always be a joyous season for us since my kids know the real meaning we celebrate. And Ripley will definitely stick around even when no one believes in him. We'll all just take turns (yes, even you, David) cleverly moving him around the house. I got dibs on the marshmallow bath, however. That may become my stolen signature move.