I have a confession. I’m one of those people. You know the ones people begin rolling their eyes at as December nears, who wear calf-high red and green striped socks down city streets humming carols, who bake rich treats while sobbing in front of Hallmark movies. Whose dog even sighs as the advent calendar appears.
I love Christmas. I know, I know – it isn’t a cool thing to admit, so not 2019, but hear me out. I love the joy it brings. I love how people gather. I love that it makes us take time out of our busy lives to think of others. To acknowledge those around us, those who we often forget to appreciate, who we keep rescheduling catch-ups with – next week, next month, I promise. It’s a time when we put the grudges behind us and realise our shared humanity.
An Elf Initiation
In my early twenties I spent an entire holiday break as an Elf. Yes, you can laugh. The job entailed helping kids in the local shopping centre pop on to Santa’s lap, taking photos and then handing out candy canes. As my starting day approached, I was bubbling with anticipation – I’d be spending all day, every day spreading festive joy. Perfect!
By the end of my first day however, I was flustered, exhausted and collapsed in a heap. The job wasn’t what I expected. Santa was an ass, the equipment kept breaking down, the parents were rude and impatient, my supervisor was nowhere to be found, and, worst of all, we ran out of candy canes. Instead of feeling joyful, I was downhearted. I dragged my bell-clad feet home as bah-humbug as anyone.
The next day was exactly the same. But on the third day, I decided that I would let the problems be what they were. And that’s when I saw it. Amongst the flurry of busy shoppers, hurrying to get everything in order for their Christmas feast or their annual get-together, there was a distinct overtone of joy, excitement and oneness. People were putting donated gifts under the tree for those less fortunate, a young man stopped to help an elderly woman carry her groceries, kids laughed and played, and as I stood there, a small pause in my day, a woman walked up to me and placed a mint lolly in my hand, gave me a hug and silently walked away.
Look and You Shall See
After that day, I noticed more and more the little things people around me were doing to help each other. Strangers connecting even for just a small moment of time. People stopping to be in service of others. Inspired, my holiday spirit returned with a vengeance and I too made sure I could be of service as much as possible. And like that, Santa’s sour attitude began to change, the equipment didn’t seem so dodgy, and even the stressed-out parents breathed easier.
As my last day wrapped up, I removed the bells from my shoes, the ribbons from my hair and hung my bright red apron up for the last time before meeting a friend for a long-overdue catch-up. We hugged tightly, grateful to finally spend time in each other’s presence. “So,” she asked, “was being an Elf everything you thought it would be?”
I paused. “No,” I admitted. “It wasn’t … It was even more than I expected.”
Since my time as an Elf I have committed to bringing the festive spirit to the entire year. After all, why should joy, love and oneness be contained to just the last month! And in return my own life has been richer; I enjoy more connected (and new!) friendships, joy and love have found their way into parts of my life where they were missing, and giving back just brings so much inner satisfaction.
So let’s remember to be of service to others after the 25th! We would love to know how you will bring the spirit of the season to all twelve months of next year in the comments below.
*Elf outfits are optional*
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year