Do you have one of these, or do you remember him?
This little elf was about to hit the trash when a co-worker was sorting out her stuff.
"Wait!" I said. "I remember him!"
Every year my mother had an elf like this one that traveled around our house from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas.
He watched us.
If we did something bad, the elf knew and told Mom. He also reported our good deeds; that was important because for every good deed we were allowed to put a straw in the manger that would eventually hold the Christ child in our Nativity scene. We wanted to do good deeds and add straws so His bed would not be too hard.
Some years, I'm sorry to say, the Christ Child probably got splinters from the wooden manger. Other years His bed was soft and overflowing with straw. Some people might have cheated a little in their anxiety to be sure His bed was comfy. (Not me, of course. I would not have cheated. Ever.)
Seeing this little elf launching to the trash can brought back a flood of memories--Mom's happy face with eyes twinkling as she moved the elf to a new hiding place (as we spied on her to see his new location), the elf perched on top of mantels, bookshelves, chairs and tables, the huge angel choir at the Nativity scene, the empty manger that waited until Christmas Eve at midnight for its occupant, the huge, huge tree in the living room...so many good memories of this time of year.
We never had much money and our Christmas gifts were usually small things, each carefully and individually wrapped--a pencil, a package of new socks, decks of cards. And a stocking full of nuts, candy, oranges and apples. Small gifts loaded with love and laughter.
The elf never landed in the trash. He's been my office companion for the past few months. Now it's time for him to get to work.
Here is a story from the Brothers Grimm about elves:
The Servant Girl and the Elves
Once upon a time there was a poor servant girl who was diligent and neat. Every day she swept out the house and shook the sweepings onto a large pile outside the door. One morning just as she was beginning her work she found a letter on the pile of sweepings. She could not read, so she stood her broom in the corner and took the letter to her employers. It was an invitation from the elves, asking the girl to serve as godparent at the baptism of one of their children.
At first the girl did not know what she should do, but finally they convinced her to accept. It would not be right, they said, to decline such an invitation.
Three elves came and led her to a hollow mountain where the little people lived. Everything there was small, but more ornate and splendid than can be described. The new mother was lying in a bed of ebony decorated with pearl buttons. The covers were embroidered with gold. The cradle was made of ivory, and the bathtub of gold. The girl stood in as godparent, and then wanted to go back home, but the elves asked her fervently to stay with them for three days. She agreed to do so, and the time passed with pleasure and joy. The little people did everything to make her happy.
Finally she wanted to return home. They filled her pockets with gold and led her outside the mountain. She arrived home. Wanting to begin her work, she picked up the broom that was still standing in the corner and started to sweep. Then some strange people came out of the house and asked her who she was and what she was doing there. It was not three days, as she thought, that she had spent in the mountain with the little men, but rather seven years. In the meantime her former employers had died.
For more, visit the Pitt e-text site.
And for more elven tales from around the world, try these:
An story about Icelandic elves is on this interesting blog
and Japanese elves at Crackle Mountain
A variation on Tam Lin is given as a Scottish elf tale on the Stories to Grow By site.
from Brittany comes the story of The Hunchback and the Elves.
Or if you're interested in the folklore of elves, these sites will keep you busy reading for some time:
Mythical realms explores elves, elven folk and other mythical beings.
Learn about "The True Elves of Europe" here.
More from Iceland!
Enough for today. Happy reading!