When I was a kid, my grandmother would stay over at our house on Christmas Eve every other year. I adored my grandmother and I loved Christmas so I was always happy when it was our year to host her. I got to have two of my favorite things at the same time! Because our house didn’t have a guest room, Gram bunked with me in my room.

One of my favorite Christmas memories was when I was about 5- or 6-years old. I was beyond excited for Christmas. I was one of those kids who barely slept on Christmas Eve because I.JUST. COULDN’T. WAIT. My poor grandmother just wanted to get some sleep. I remember waking her up, literally shaking her, to ask her if she heard noises on the roof. I was sure it was reindeer. It was all she could do to keep me from running downstairs to see if Santa was really putting my presents under the tree.

I’m sure if I were able to ask her, that it wouldn’t be one of her favorite holiday memories. But to me, it was special because that night, I knew the magic was real. I believed.  I heard those hooves scraping to a stop on our icy roof. And my wonderful Gram played along fantastically, stoking the fires of Christmas spirit that burned for several more years. (Until I became a grumpy old grown-up with responsibilities, that is.)

Fast forward to 2015: My own daughter is 7-years old. Now it’s her turn to be beyond excited for Christmas. But as a busy parent, I’m tired. And sometimes we grown-ups forget how special this season is to kids. We might even joke about “accidentally” feeding our Elf on the Shelf to the dog. (Wait, was that just me?) Then something special happens to remind us to see the holiday through their eyes.

I had been dragging my feet about bringing our elf out of the attic back from the North Pole. I was even trying to find the easy way out. A nice letter or something saying that she had outgrown the need for an elf. Since I couldn’t find anything, out he came. That first night, I snuck into her room and hung him from a decoration hanging over her bed. When Zoey woke up the next morning and saw Alex the elf dangling there, she jumped up and down and told him how she missed him and that she loved him. I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah. THAT’S why I do the elf…”

Photo: K. Stevenson

Photo: K. Stevenson

That morning, when I saw her eyes light up at the sight of her elf, that was my wake up call to remember that the magic is real. And each and every morning as she stomps out of bed in search for Alex on his next adventure, I am reminded again. I am so lucky. So lucky. There is no doubt in her mind. The magic is real. I am so grateful that she is a true believer in Santa and the reindeer and the elf himself. And because she believes, our Christmas tree sparkles a little brighter, our hearts are a little lighter and our laughter a little louder. All we needed was a little magic.