BENDO AT THE WINDOW (an Elf on the Shelf remix)

elf at windowHave you ever wondered how Santa can know if you’re getting better at self-control each year as you grow?  For hundreds of years it’s been a big secret.  It now can be shared if you promise to keep it.
At holiday time Santa gives me a turn to watch and report on the skills that you’ve learned. My job’s an assignment from Santa himself. And I am his helper and a great scout elf!
My name is Bendo and I’m the eldest of elves.  I’m really good at observing, if I do say so myself!  All day I am peering through the windows of your house though you may never see me for I’m as quiet as a mouse.
I watch for the ups and I watch for the downs…for each family goes through them no matter in what town. I see when you lose it (and when mom and dad does too).  I know you’re all doing the best you can do.
Your brain is still wiring; you’re learning each day how to manage your emotions when your nerves feel frayed.  It helps when your parents can model for you how to breathe when you’re angry, how to mourn when you’re blue.
Each night as you’re sleeping to Santa I’ll fly…to the North Pole right through the night sky.  Of course Christmas magic helps me to be quick.  I laugh with my friends and report to St. Nick.  I see your improvements and on that I report.  Santa knows that you’re trying; he’s a really good sport.
I’ll tell him if your efforts have paid out yet or not; the news of the day doesn’t affect him a lot.  He knows that you’ll learn at your pace and besides, he knows his own happiness comes from inside.  Not from how you behave or what you do…his main job is just to love and encourage you.
I’ll be back at your home before you’re out of the bed, looking forward to observing the day ahead. There are no hard and fast rules but I do have a request. If you see me, come hug me and then I’ll feel blessed.  For my magic grows stronger when I share it with you and feeling connected brings happiness too.
The gleam in my eye and my bright little smile shows you I’m listening and your words are worthwhile. I’ll listen to you tell me your wishes, wants and needs.  It’s good that you know them, that’s how to proceed.  For once you know your needs, you can bet…there’s lots of choices on how to get them met.
So keep on trying and when you make a mistake, just say you’re sorry and do a remake.  Nobody’s perfect, not even near.  Just give it your best and keep improving each year.  There’s no need to worry that you won’t measure up. Forget that misguided Elf on the Shelf who’s forever turning the pressure up.
Santa will never try to punish or coerce.  He knows you can’t make a child behave better by making him feel worse. He long ago threw out those words “naughty” and “nice” when he discovered motivation from the outside comes at too high a price. Santa will love you no matter what you choose.  His love is the kind you can’t earn and can’t lose.
The night before Christmas my job’s at an end. The rest of the year with Santa I’ll spend. And you’ll keep on growing and learning and oh my! I bet I won’t recognize you the next time I come by. Of course I’ll miss you but wait till next year.  When the holidays come I’ll again reappear. To celebrate all the ways you have grown. And to let you know that you’re never alone.
Until then I wish every girl and each boy a Christmas of peace and a year full of joy.
with love,
*Please forgive my friend Elf on the Shelf.  He’s young and still learning. 

It’s about PRESENCE…not presents

gingerbread houseAt this time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season and the frenzy of shopping sprees.  Is there any home with a little girl that doesn’t have a Frozen themed Elsa doll wrapped and ready to go?  Or a home with a little boy that doesn’t have a Lego building kit under the tree?  (I’m sure there are, but the toy companies would have us think otherwise).

Every year I say I’m going to opt out of the madness and make room for relaxing evenings, slow dinners, and hours of listening to the Elvis Christmas Album.  I envision me and the boys sitting around the den surrounded by twinkling lights, sipping our hot chocolate, laughing and sharing memories of seasons past.

Yet, as the holiday season rolls around, there are school dinners and concerts, sports banquets, plays, party invitations, and shopping for the kids and loved ones.  Not to mention, end of semester final exams, basketball tournaments, and end of year personal and business financial reporting.

What happens is I wind up surviving the holidays, rather than enjoying the holidays.  I regret to say that for many years I’ve let out a huge sigh (that I’ve been holding from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day) and thought, “I’m glad that’s over!”

 Can you relate?  Are you rushing around to get everything ready for the holidaysand missing the holy days in your life right now?  Are you sprinting from store to store buying presents for your loved ones and missing the opportunity to snuggle up at home and gift them with your presence?

What do you think your kids will remember twenty years from now?  The doll or the time you spent together making a gingerbread house?  The Lego kit or the time you spent together baking cookies, or stringing popcorn, or eating the popcorn and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas?

I recently read an article where the author was a long-time teacher and over the years she had asked the children in her classrooms what their parents did that made them feel loved or happy.  On the Top 10 List she compiled, not one thing required money.  They all required time and presence.  Examples: tuck me in and sing me a song, give me hugs and kisses, cuddle under a blanket and watch TV, tell me stories about when you were little.

So this year, I finally made some progress.  I got the tree up and the home decorated early so we had more time to enjoy the twinkling lights. I got the Elvis Christmas Album (cd) out and popped it in the player.  I made hot chocolate with little marshmallows.  We’ve sat down to a leisurely dinner (with fresh baked cookies) several times this week.  We’ve been connecting and spending time together and I’ve been saying “no” to other distractions. THIS feels like thrivingduring the holidays, rather than surviving the holidays!  I invite you to give it a try!


Carve out a little time each day to spend with each child (one-on-one if possible). This is especially needed during hectic holiday time.  Stress is contagious….but so is calm presence.

Click here for my gift to you…a cute collection of “tickets” that your child can use for more time and connection with you.  Just print the sheet, cut out the tickets and staple them together to make your own Ticket Booklet.  Stuff it in a stocking or wrap it up and give the gift that your child will cherish all year (not just play with for a few days and toss in a corner).