Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Name an Elf

This year we decided to institute the 'Elf on the Shelf' Christmas tradition. I'm actually pretty picky when it comes to this type of thing. I firmly believe that imagination is what drives Christmas spirit so I regularly shy away from Christmas stories that over-explain the phenomenon that is Santa Claus. Too intricate a tale will kill any interpretation or possibilities in the lore, and fences like that don't get taken down easily. So I did a lot of thinking about whether or not this Shelf Elf was for us.

After considering the concept, I decided to make an exception for this because I happen to find it clever. It adds a branch to the story that actually encourages differences in experience and (I think) answers some of the valid, logical questions that I began to have at a young age that eventually forced me to question the validity of the story altogether. Not to mention, I know I would have loved having an elf to seek out and confide in when I was a little girl. The magic factor in this one is pretty high if you ask me. 

My mother-in-law gave us this elf last year and I hadn't thought to open it until our decorations were up and I suddenly remembered we even had one. So, I pulled our little elf out of his box and started flipping through the included story book - for those of you unfamiliar with the lore you can catch up over the next couple of bulletin points:

1. Santa has special helper elves that are assigned to families either by request (you write a letter to the big guy and ask for one) or you can also pick up one of the many elves that are sent to stores around the world (because Santa also cares about convenience, apparently).

2. Your elf will arrive, and once he or she has done so, you must quickly give it a name. Only when it has been named will its magic become active.

3. The elf's sole purpose is to check on you and to make sure you are being good. Then each night he or she flies back to the North Pole to give their report to Santa.

4. The next morning when you wake up, guess what? He or she is back! And you'll be able to tell that they left because now they will be sitting in a new place in your house. (I may or may not be failing miserably in the whole remembering to move the elf endeavor).

5. This isn't 'Nam people, there are rules. Do not touch the elf! Or else his magic will go away and he won't be able to fly back to Santa. But, you can feel free to talk to him as much as you want. Tell him what you're hoping to get from Santa. Tell him whatever you want - he is an excellent listener (probably mostly due to the fact that he is made of plastic and therefore, has no choice).

So, our little elf came out of his box, and we started trying to think up a name. Willow had better things to do, so it was up to the adults. I started throwing out every boy name I've ever loved that I knew Ryan would never let me name a hypothetical son someday. Turns out he hated them as much for an elf as he does for a real person...LAME. But, I'm a compromising sort, so I moved on and kept thinking.

Ryan tried out a few gibberish names (for which he is perfectly adept at creating) and they all just felt too silly. Not right for our happy little elf. This was turning into a small problem. This guy needed a name, and we were failing utterly.

Then, it came to me! I suddenly remembered a car trip to Michigan that Ryan and I took when I was pregnant with Willow. We were still trying to pick names and had brought along our name book to read through as we travelled. Convinced that we needed to be open minded, we started at the beginning and read through each girl name (well almost all of them) marking down the ones we liked and leaving the losers on the blacktop behind us. We were blown away by what qualifies as a real name on many occasions, but none so much as when we entered into the T's and found our joke baby name, Trilby. 

"Oh my God - it HAS to be Trilby!" I yelled out of nowhere. We agreed it was perfect. And Trilby was magic-icized!

Ok, yes. He's a he. And Trilby is technically a girl's name. But I think I caught him throwing me some shade earlier and his eyelashes are quite lovely, so I think we're on the right track here, people.

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