When my girls were small Christmas couldn't arrive fast enough for them. They would sneak under the tree, knock ornaments down, rattle packages, whine and beg for clues etc. You get the picture. Hard to resist a four and three year old and their quest for Christmas.
So, I invented the elves. The elves visit good children who leave the tree and the things underneath it alone. The elves leave a small gift in each stocking for the seven days prior to Christmas. The gift could be anything from a new toothbrush to a pack of gum to a new pair of socks.
One year Abbey decided to leave the elves a note. She was in first grade and took great pains to write a short letter to the elves thanking them for the gifts they left. Of course, the elves left her a note back. She was quite excited to see the spidery handwriting on a very antique looking piece of paper. She was more impressed with the tiny 'footprints' in the ashes on the fireplace hearth.
Unknown to me, she took the note with her to school that morning and proceeded to hunt down Mrs. Samuels, the gifted/resource teacher, and show her the note. After Abbey left her office, Mrs. Samuels called to let me know of Abbey's visit, her excitement and the downright cuteness of the whole elves, letter, footprint story. Pure Christmas magic she told me, the best gift she'd received was the excitement in Abbey's eyes as she told the story.
I had spent a bit of time figuring out what to write, finding just the write paper to write it on and making the edges look old....however, I hadn't left any footprints on the hearth. So, I hung up the phone and hightailed it over to the fireplace. Sure enough, tiny footprint like marks were there...left from when my husband had swept the hearth clean and small little 'prints' were left on the stones. When you want to believe, the mind can convert brush markings to elf tracks.
The elves just made their first delivery today....red mitten ornaments. No notes are left any more and our fireplace in this house burns gas logs not real ones, so no soot to be swept away or footprints to discover. But, I like to think the magic is still there for them each morning. I know it is for me.