December 18th – 24th:
After the elf ate dog biscuits, she made a snow angel in flour; became crunchy after I washed the flour off her back;
passed out next to a wine bottle; climbed another Christmas tree (we had two); climbed a wall divider; and made it to her final resting place on the fireplace mantel. It was there she sat on December 24th with a note to Antonia that said:
This is my last visit before Santa comes! It has been fun being your elf this year. My reports to the North Pole have been mostly good, so there’s a good chance Santa will bring you something nice! Keep being a good little girl and a good student!
Jingles the Elf
P.S. Get some better cookies and I’ll come back next year.
On Christmas Eve, I explain to Antonia that Jingles will not be coming back again since Santa was going to be arriving instead. “She had to go back to the North Pole and help with the toys,” I tell Antonia.
“Oh,” Antonia says sullenly. “Will she be back next year?”
“That depends,” I reply. “Sometimes elves get reassigned to other kids, so we won’t know until next Christmas.”
Antonia ponders this for a minute then asks, “Mama? Does Jingles just leave in spirit or her body goes away, too?”
“Well…I’m not really sure. But, I know she doesn’t move anymore after this.”
Antonia is clearly bothered by this information. “So, I’ll still get to keep her in my closet, but she just won’t move around the house?”
“I guess so,” I tell my sweet daughter.
That night, I completely forget about our conversation, and as we are filling stockings and parking a new purple and orange bike by the tree, I grab the elf off the mantel and stuff her on a shelf in the closet behind a wicker basket.
Antonia is all excited to find her new bicycle in front of the fireplace and all the goodies in her stocking, but in the midst of it all realizes that Jingles is nowhere to be found. She doesn’t say much about it to Albie or me, but once the grandparents arrive, Albie overhears her telling one of them, “Apparently, Santa didn’t just take her spirit, he took her whole body back to the North Pole!”
Apparently, that’s what happens to elves in the off-season.