A few years back, we were given an Elf on the Shelf. I’ll admit it. I wasn’t a big fan of the elf, or at least I wasn’t until the morning that the elf had a toy tyrannosaurus rex sitting next to him. The dinosaur was a complete mystery to the kids. They didn’t know where the dinosaur came from or why it was there.
The next morning, they found the elf hiding in the Christmas tree, and the dinosaur standing in a pile of candy wrappers.
Suddenly, the dinosaur’s presence was clear: he was there to steal candy. The kids immediately set up defenders around the dinosaur, soldiers and heroes dedicated to keeping the creature contained. The next morning, their carefully set up scene was a grim battlefield. The dinosaur had tossed soldiers around like toys, tipped over tanks, and stomped closer to the candy. Based on the evidence, only the arrival of the Avengers had stemmed the dinosaur’s rampage.
For the rest of that Christmas season, a portion of every day was dedicated to setting up the battlefield. Every morning the results of the battle were examined for clues: which toys came to life, which didn’t, which fought the most effectively.
It was, perhaps, the weirdest Christmas tradition I’d ever heard of, but it was fun, and it persisted.
This year, the tradition has reached a new level.
One morning, the elf brought a small paper box, crafted of construction paper and tape, containing a toy Batman.
This particular box did not come from any of Santa’s known helpers… which means the most magical thing of all has happened: Santa has a new helper.