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If you squint, you might spot the elves

It is foggy this morning and that is just the kind of weather elves love. Sometimes, if I squint really hard, I think I see some movement in the woods near my house and I wonder if there might be an elf afoot.

You see, we have an elf tree in our woods. It got its name from my granddaughters years ago. The tree is the shell of a tall old fellow. Most of it isn’t living anymore so its bare branches make a perfect elf perch.

My grandchildren proclaimed it the elf tree one winter afternoon when they rode the golf cart along the trail my husband made in the woods.

“Look Gran,” they cried, it’s a tree for elves to sit in.”

Now know that are few months earlier, it was a tree for spooks to sit in. They also declared this on an afternoon golf cart ride that ended with a bonfire and stories about, well, spooks.

Eventually, the elves won out over the spooks and it officially became, The Blackmon Elf Tree. As I understand it, elves need a place to gather at the end of a busy day spent watching kids for their boss, Santa. You know the day shift clocks out at the elf tree while the night shift clocks in and heads out to see if boys and girls are getting to bed on time.

Maybe the ones ending the day sip cups of elf tea while they rest on the limbs and discuss how things are going with the children assigned to them.

“Well, it is looking pretty good for Allison this year,” says one unusually tall elf sitting on a low limb. “She did everything her mother asked her to do today — picked up her toys, was kind to her brother. Yep, it’s looking good.”

“Mine was much better today,” chimes in a second elf. “Yes, indeed things are looking up for Aaron. He helped his mother and was really good at school.”

And so the conversations continue as the sun begins to set in the woods.

“I’m happy that Lexie was very good today, much better than when I first arrived,” says the smallest elf of all. “She played with her little sister and didn’t have a single argument with her older one. I’m thinking Santa is going to be real pleased when I tell him.”

After a dinner of sugar cookies, candy canes and more elf tea, they start to settle down for the night. As the owl choir sings nearby, one by one the elves drift to sleep and dream they ride flying reindeer and play hide-n-seek in Santa’s workshop.

Meanwhile, night shift elves visit their elf-on-the-shelf friends to get their latest reports. Then they sit quietly in the shadows as children sleep, watching over them until morning.

When the sun rises, the process starts again. Night elves return to rest for the day in the elf tree while day shift elves scatter into the world to see their children.

As Christmas Day approaches, they are in constant contact with Santa. I don’t know what magic they use because elves don’t need cell phones. They’ve been around since long before cell phones.

What I do know is they love children — all of them. (I have a hunch that in the end elves always give Santa good reports on the children they watch.)

I’m pretty sure Santa stops to pick up the elves who live in my woods. Why, on Christmas Eve years ago, my own children saw a strange light that was surely Santa gathering his elves, but that’s a story for another time.

I walked to the elf tree not long ago and as I looked up through its branches, something occurred to me. There are elf trees everywhere. You might even have one hiding way back in the corner of your yard.

And, on a foggy morning — if you squint real hard, you might see those elves changing shifts.

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.