Elfing Around

One of my fondest memories of Christmas is secret gift missions with my father, adventures that we referred to as “elfing around.”

I remember the year my dad decided to have a local craftsman make a grandfather clock for Mama. Once the clock was finished, the challenge became how to get it home and keep it hidden until Christmas morning.

Late on Christmas Eve afternoon, Daddy and I slipped out the back door with an armful of scratchy, wool army blankets and headed across town in his station wagon to pick up the clock. Our breath blew out in plumes as we traversed the path from Mr. Zehr’s driveway to his shop. Golden light emanated from the windows and it was almost like entering a storybook workshop as we stepped inside. A workbench full of tools lined one wall and a woodstove cut the chill. The smell of wood, stain, and sealer filled the air. Beautiful projects in various stages of completion dotted the room, among them, mama’s clock. With help, we carried the clock to the station wagon, loaded it in the back, and covered it with the army blankets. We laughed about the clandestine look of it as we headed back home, positing what people might suspect it to be if they saw it covered in the back of the car. Later we dodged Mama’s questions about our absence.

Early Christmas morning, Daddy woke me and we wrestled the clock inside. He built a roaring fire and cooked breakfast. The surprise and joy on Mama’s face and the memories of other “elfing round” adventures with Daddy are nostalgic nuggets of special Christmas memories now that Mama and Daddy are gone.

While I hold fond memories of Christmas, many people don’t. Perhaps for you, or someone you know, there were no gifts or decorations, no favorite foods, absent family members, or only strife and tension at Christmastime. It’s hard to move beyond those types of memories, but it’s possible to create new ones.

This year is a good time to establish new traditions, refocus, and give the kinds of gifts that matter—your time, talents, and love—to those around you. Now is the year to forgive, make contact with those long avoided, reestablish abandoned connections, and remember, with gratitude, the many ways you are blessed.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV


You may also like


  1. And it’s a beautiful grandfather clock!
    Thanks for the reminder that it’s never too late to create a good memory or establish a new tradition of love in Christ!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.