Elves are working hard!
Sewing, gluing, hammering, piecing--those elves really put their all into making toys for the children of the world.
But it wasn't always that way, at least, to our knowledge.
The first mention of elves living at the North Pole was in the 1823 poem that helped shape the western view of Santa Claus, Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," or "The Night Before Christmas." Santa Claus is referred to as a "jolly old elf."
|1912 edition. Public Domain|
|Thomas Nast's "Merry Old Santa Claus." Public Domain|
|Godey's Lady's Book, public domain|
Since then, elves seem to strictly wear pointy hats over their pointy ears that match their pointy shoes. They've been associated with Christmas by everyone from Norman Rockwell to the movie "Elf."
|Hermey the Elf, who'd rather be a dentist in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Public Domain|
Christmas is about far more than elves, of course. It's about Jesus, incarnate, man divine, coming to dwell with us. But in our culture, there's a lot more tacked on, and it causes some stress. Clearly, Christmas is a task few of us can handle alone.
Perhaps we can be inspired to "Be an Elf" this week. Help someone out. Carry a package, open a door, pay for a stranger's coffee. Be a servant.
Even if we don't get to wear a pointy hat.