Three cheers for the elves

Bravo! Three cheers! Thank you to the unsung heroes of the holidays – the elves.

They come in many shapes and sizes, and often wear disguises.

There are some clues to their identity, however. Christmas elves have a certain sparkle in their eyes, and smiles on their faces. They are rarely at home in front of their television sets, more likely to be calling friends, making lists and attending meetings. The best places to look for them are at special holiday events.

There are elves who go a little overboard with the lights and decorations on their homes – no graceful deer statue with a discrete touch of glitter in the front garden, and a pretty wreath on the door, for these folks. There are lights in the trees, lights on the clothes line, lights on the roof and around every window. There is a giant blow-up Santa on the porch, surrounded by toys. There is a sizable herd of deer in the yard, several wearing colourful hats, scarves, and old hockey sweaters, plus an army of glow-in-the-dark snowmen, statues of every movie holiday figure imaginable, and a motion-detecting audio tape of “Grandma got run over by a reindeer!” Everyone who walks by sets the thing off. People go out of their way to check out the display, and everyone who does has a giant smile on their face.

There are helper elves, who seem to be involved in every holiday event and fundraiser. The Santa Claus parade finds them happily handing out candy canes to children, directing traffic, or decorating floats – usually all of the above. They are the ones who set up donation boxes for the local food drive and sell tickets for the holiday raffle. A charity Christmas dinner has them cooking turkeys and baking cookies for days, to make sure everyone has enough. These are the folks who scurry out in a storm to buy a last-minute gift or two for a total stranger, whose name was listed as someone in need.

Some elves are musical, devoting hours of practice to make sure the Christmas concert goes beautifully. These elves include innocent-looking little children who have been warned not to change the words to “Jingle Bells” the day of the concert, their older siblings who add costumes and choreography to the performance, and people of all ages who share their music with their neighbours and community for the love of it. Whether the concert is a formal affair with tickets and programs, or an impromptu, spur-of-the moment activity in the neighbourhood, the music elves make sure the snowflakes and tinsel are accompanied by the sweet sounds of the season.

There are elves with other talents besides music. Baker elves make cakes and cookies to give to fortunate friends and relatives; crafty elves stitch, paint and glue up a storm, to create one-of-a-kind treasures; knitting and crocheting elves make sure everyone has warm hats and mittens.

Elves usually have regular jobs besides their holiday activities. There are special elves who have enough seniority at their place of work that they could have Christmas off, but they sign up for a shift so that a co-worker with a young family can spend the special day at home with their children. Whether they are looking after patients in a hospital, driving a snow plow or milking cows, these elves go above and beyond.

It would be hard to imagine the holidays without these wonderful elves who devote endless hours and a wealth of talent to their community.

Let this be a massive thank you to the elves who do so much for so many. If we are able, we might lighten their work by sharing in it – a truly special way of thanking them. We might donate a gift or food without them having to ask – or buy a raffle ticket, or even sell a few.

We can all smile at them, offer a few words of gratitude, and applaud their efforts.

Bravo to the elves!