I usually put my Christmas tree up on the day after Thanksgiving. I was a Christmas tree perfectionist. I placed an ornament on the tree, then stood back to see if it looked ok. It took me hours to decorate the tree. I popped popcorn days earlier, because stale popcorn is easier to string. I would sit and string popcorn for a very long time. I also made my own 30 foot garland by cutting strips of material and tying it onto a jute rope. My tree was beautiful if I may say so myself. My children would be home, out of school for a few days over Thanksgiving, so I thought I would start our very own holiday tradition. I believe this began when they were six or seven years old.
One Thanksgiving day, after our big meal at my in-laws, we were sitting around, relaxing, when I said, “Wow, did you guys feel that cold air come through here?” I shivered. The kids shook their heads and they went about their business. Adam got up and walked through the kitchen, into the Hearth Room, where he had been playing with his Lego’s before we left.
I heard him yell to me. “Mom! Dad! Come here!” We got up and walked into the Hearth Room. The Hearth Room, by the way, is our living room, which I refused to call a living room. I wanted to be a little more creative than that. I dubbed it the Hearth Room when we built the house, and that’s what we all called it. When we walked into the room, I could tell Adam was excited.
“Look! Santa dropped it down the fireplace!” It was a vhs movie. I can’t remember what the movie was called, maybe Otis and Milo. I then added, “Maybe he dropped it down the fireplace at the same time I felt the cold air. Santa was here!” And that’s how it started.
Every Thanksgiving evening I would say different phrases: “Boy, I have the shivers………Is it cold in here all of a sudden?”…….”Did someone just open the door?…… I would say it nonchalant like, and they would look at each other, get up, and try to beat each other to the Hearth Room. There would be a movie waiting for them every time. Score one for Mom.
One year, I had just decorated the mantel and tree in the Hearth Room. I must have dropped a little elf hat that came off of a stuffed elf that I usually left in the box of unused decorations. Adam felt the breeze before I said anything, and ran into the Hearth Room. The movie was sitting in the fireplace, on logs like it had been dropped down the chimney. But, Adam also found the little elf hat and about freaked out. I guess it would be scary to think that there was a little man in your home.
“There was an elf in the house. He dropped his hat.” Adam looked a little unsettled. I just got him to be able to sleep after being scared by an R. L. Stine book weeks before. He would wake up, yelling for me because the “Green Witch” was in his room. I think they were watching “Are you Afraid of the Dark” also, so that didn’t help. And now there was a freakin elf in the house. Looks like his sleep patterns were going to be disrupted again.
That night, my husband had to go to work and set the security alarm. He never set it on “Instant”, which meant the lazers would be on and anyone moving inside the house would set off the alarm. We used to set it that way when we would go on vacation. I was in a deep sleep and all of a sudden I heard the alarm go off AND Adam screaming at the top of his lungs. I jumped up and ran out into the hall. He wasn’t in his room. His screams came from downstairs. It was about 3:00am, so I thought for sure someone was in the house and was trying to take Adam.
I quickly shut off the alarm and noticed that the Hearth Room was breached. I rushed downstairs, a mother on a mission. I didn’t have a gun or a knife or a shoe. I had adrenaline. My son was screaming. I ran into the room, and found Adam, clad in his cute little Ghost Buster pajamas,holding his hamster cage in his arms.
“Chuck was making too much noise in his cage and so I thought I would bring him down here so I could sleep.” He was scared. Adam, I mean, not Chuck. I looked around and noticed that the alarm had been set to “instant.” There was no intruder. Adam walked through one of the lazers and set off the alarm. My poor little guy.
I walked Adam back to bed and tucked him in and assured him that his dad set the alarm by mistake. Adam seemed to think that the elf set off the alarm. Just great.
All was well the next morning and the kids watched the movie that came down the chimney. They seemed to enjoy our new holiday tradition and I hope they pass it on to their kids.
I just hope they leave the elf hat in the box.