Sunday 25 Sep 2016

I'm an Elf
AJ Robinson

There’s a certain magic to the Christmas Season. I don’t know what it is about that time of year, but it never fails to deliver something that was unique. The thing is, I’d never been, well, for lack of a better word, a participant in that magic. Now sure, I’ve seen it happen, or heard about it; some special event or some people doing something that just about shouted: Merry Christmas to all! To be part of something that embodied the season, no.

That is, until one special year.

My nephew Brendan really loved the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” the early first version of the animated television show. Back then, as with shows today, there were action figures for all of the characters, and he, of course, had a bunch of them. As new ones came out, he was quite intent on getting them, adding them to his collection, and playing endless games with them. On a number of my visits to see him and the rest of the family, he dragged me off to play some of those games.

I have to say, he was quite imaginative!

As I lived in Florida and he and his family lived in New Jersey, regular visits were not possible. I could only come up for special occasions. One year, I wasn’t going to be able to visit for Christmas; so, I went shopping for gifts for everyone – with the knowledge that they had to be items easy to mail. Over the years, I’d learned NOT to buy anything fragile, anything too big, or anything too, misshapen; they required over-sized boxes. In the case of Brendan, I knew to stick to “Ninja Turtle” characters, but which one.

The range of choices was huge.

I strolled down the aisle, letting my eyes play across the possibilities. I’d also long ago learned, as the saying goes, to trust my gut. I would wait for a feeling to come over me; some sort, “calling,” as to which gift to buy. Then, I saw it. I think it was some sort of alligator-type character. I knew, yeah, that was the one. I wanted that one. Buying it, I wrapped it up, along with the other gifts, and mailed them off to the family. On Christmas Day or maybe a few days afterwards, I was talking to Brendan’s mom on the phone. It was then I learned just what affect my gift had had on him.

He was now quite sure I was one of Santa’s elves.

It seemed, as he opened my gift, he was beyond overjoyed. You see, the toy was exactly what he wanted. In fact, his parents had bought him the same item and had it hidden upstairs – they were going to spring it on him later. They realized they’d have to return it and get something else. As for Brendan, he questioned them: had they told me about the toy? No was the reply. He was amazed. How, he wondered, how was it that I always knew exactly what toy he wanted? Only one answer made sense to him: I had to be one of Santa’s elves.

It made me smile. Yeah, I’d been party to a little Christmas magic, and just thinking about it still makes me smile.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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