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People Almost Met: A Little Elf on the Corner--Random Acts of Kindness

Updated on December 8, 2016

This story is one of a series about people whom I have almost met. The stories are about chance encounters with someone that lasts only a brief minute or two, but makes an indelible impression. It’s about encounters that in a small way change my life.

The encounter is too brief for an exchange of names. We may speak or touch, but we haven’t really met—hence the title, “People Almost Met.”

This story is about a little elf that I almost met one day on my way to a Tuba Christmas performance at the park. My encounter with him was like getting a special Christmas present.

A Special Gift

A special gift for Christmas.
A special gift for Christmas. | Source

A Beautiful December Day in Florida.

I was in downtown Winter Park on my way to a Tuba Christmas performance. Tuba Christmas, in case you don't know, is a group of tuba and euphonium players who provide a free concert In December every year. There are a couple of hundred groups that do these concerts all over the country. I live in Orlando, Florida so my son plays in the Winter Park Tuba Christmas in the downtown park named Central Park.

The band plays all the traditional holiday music, both hymns and pop-music, interspersed with little tidbits of information about the origin of the songs. The performance is done two or three weeks before Christmas, and it really gets me in the holiday spirit.

I attend this performance every year, in part because my son plays is a tuba player and he is on stage under the band shell with about 100 other brass payers for the performance. He has participated every year since he was a teenager playing tuba in the school's marching band. It's a holiday tradition in our family.

It was a beautiful day, just perfect for sitting in the park, sunny with the temperature around 80 degrees. The weather was quite a change from last year when the concert was held on a rainy wintry day. (In Orlando, we think it is wintry if the temperature goes down to 50 degrees.) But last year, something special happened on my way to the concert which brightened my day. I had an encounter with a little elf.

A apron covered the boy from head to toe and made him look like a little elf.
A apron covered the boy from head to toe and made him look like a little elf. | Source

I Meet a Little Elf

The little elf was standing alone on the corner. He was actually a little boy, about eight years old, dressed in an elf costume. He was standing on northeast corner of Morse and Park Avenues, his back pressed against the wall of a store. An overhead ledge provided him with a little bit of shelter from the rain.The boy was beautiful, very small and thin with a thin pale face, brown eyes, and short light brown hair just long enough to hang over his forehead. He wore an apron that covered him from his neck to his shoes. The apron was imprinted to resemble an elf costume. It even had the typical pointy-toe elf shoes depicted at the bottom of the apron.

One hand was outstretched to passersby; the other hand was at his side holding a shopping bag. Everyone rushed passed him. He seemed too timid to approach people more directly. I thought perhaps he was passing out flyers for one of the stores on Park Avenue.

The little elf gave me a foil wrapped candy.
The little elf gave me a foil wrapped candy. | Source

Everyone Ignored The Little Elf

Everyone was rushing past him, and I too was about to pass him by.Not only was I in a hurry to get to the park, but I was juggling an umbrella, a folding chair, a water bottle, and my purse. My head was down trying to avoid the rain. I don't know what, but something made me stop. Perhaps I stopped because the boy looked looked a bit forlorn standing there in the rain.

"What do you have for me," I said, as I reached my hand towards him. He did not speak, but he pressed something into my hand. It was a foil wrapped piece of chocolate, shaped and wrapped to look like Santa Claus. I recognized it as the bagged chocolates sold in the supermarket at Christmas time with a variety of Christmas-themed characters imprinted on the foil wrappers.

"Thank you," I said, with a big smile that showed how delighted I was by this random act of kindness. He gave a slight smile in return, but remained silent.

"Merry Christmas," I said. Then I dashed off, eager to get to the park. I was running a bit late and I didn't want to miss the start of the concert.

A Gift of Christmas Cheer

The little elf gave me a gift of chocolate, but his biggest gift was a bit of Christmas cheer.

Just as the concert was about to begin the rain stopped, and the sun shone through the clouds as if on cue.

The concert was just a little more wonderful that day because of my encounter with the little elf. I enjoyed my treat of Christmas chocolate during the concert.

As I passed that corner this year, I looked to see if my little elf would be there again. My little elf was not there. I never saw him again.

Transform Yourself Into an Elf

Cotton Elf Adult’s Apron
Cotton Elf Adult’s Apron

The apron will cover a child from neck to toe. Just add an elf hat and your child is all set to bring Christmas cheer to others. Adult elves are a fun idea also. I'd love to see big elves with a bag of goodies wherever there are children in need of some cheer, for instance, in a hospital ward.

 

The Elf-on-the-Shelf Craze

The Elf-on-the-Shelf is a new Christmas tradition. I have heard that some people think this is a fun game while others hate it. The game is based on a book of the same name.

The game begins when the family "adopts" the elf and gives him a name. Every night, after the children have gone to sleep, the doll is perched in a different position in a different location. The story is that the elf is Santa’s scout to check up on children to see who goes on the nice list and who goes on the naughty list. Some parents use it to get their children to be "good.”

The parents role in the game is to come up with new ingenious places for the elf to sit (or stand, or hang) every night. Sometimes they set up whole tableaus to show the child what mischief the elf has gotten into or what fun he is having.The child is mystified and delighted by the elf's antics.

It reminds me a little of the Toy Story animated films. The toys come alive when the children are asleep or not around.

There is one big difference though. Kids know that the Toy Story toys don’t actually come alive. The elf on a shelf adds a new story on top of the Santa story. We try to persuade out children that Santa is real, but now we must also persuade our children that the elf is real. Further, this smacks of an Orwellian world of “Big Brother.” The elf, like Big Brother, is always watching. Is it just getting to be a little too much?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I used the Santa story to get good behavior from my son. It was a little bit cruel of me to threaten to tell Santa about his "bad" behavior, but I was a single mother. There wasn’t much I wouldn’t have done for a few weeks of good behavior.

My son was an adult long before the elf on the shelf craze started so I’m not sure how I feel about this newest addition to the Christmas mythology. So I am asking for your opinion in the poll.

The Book and the Elf in One Package

Elf on the Shelf:A Christmas Tradition (blue-eyed boy scout elf)
Elf on the Shelf:A Christmas Tradition (blue-eyed boy scout elf)

You may be able to save some money by buying a used Elf-on-a-Shelf on amazon. Look for one in "Good" or "Like New" condition and you will have a real bargain. I've seen them for less than $10.

 

Do this poll just for fun.

What do you think of the elf on a shelf game? You can give your reasons in the comments section.

See results

A Fun Video

© 2014 Catherine Giordano

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never heard of this latest craze. Shows you how in touch I am. :) I enjoyed the story, though, and I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Hi, Billy I'm glad you enjoyed my little story about Tuba Christmas and my meeting with a little elf. I'm not sure if I like the elf on the shelf thing, but it is definitely a big craze for the last few years. I'm hoping that some people with young children will share their feelings about it.

    • profile image

      Fire8storm 2 years ago

      What a lovely Christmas story! I have learnt about Tuba Christmas and Elf on a Shelf, both of which I wasn't aware of. I don't have children but I think I would do this for young ones, not so much on the Santa is watching you side, but the elf out playing at night sounds good fun and something to add to the excitement of Christmas for them. Lovely Hub Catherine, thank you for sharing!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Fire8storm: I'm so glad you liked my little story. I like your idea about just letting the elf be a playful part of Christmas. I think I would definitely drop the whole Santa and his elf are watching you thing. It is probably too late to catch the free Tuba Christmas concert for this year, but do remember to check the dates for next year. Thanks for your comment.

    • Kate Mc Bride profile image

      Kate McBride 2 years ago from Donegal Ireland

      Elf on the shelf is a great way to banish the Winter blues in the context of Christmas-a lovely hub Catherine and well worth reading.Thanks

      Kate

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Kate. I'm sure my son and I would have had fun with elf on a shelf if it had been around when he was a little kid.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a lovely story about your Christmas experience, Catherine. I was interested to read your opinion about the idea of the Elf on the Shelf watching children because I read another article recently with the same opinion. I think you've raised a valid point.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      AliciaC: Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you liked my little elf story. It was the first time I did creative non-fiction on HubPages. I wanted to see if it would be successful here. As for the elf on the shelf, if I was playing the game with a little kid, I would say, "Our elf is a very nice elf and he would never be a tattletale."

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      We don't have the elf on the shelf here in Britain, at least not that I know of. I'm not keen on the idea though. Traditional sayings connected to Santa are one thing but devising something else for commercialism, in my view, is quite another.

      The little elf boy is intriguing. It makes me wonder why he was there.

      I love tubas and other brass instruments; they make such rich notes and often jubilant ones. I suppose that's why they're often around at Christmas time.

      Ann

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Ann for reading all three of my "People Almost Met" hubs. Now, I am wishing I had written my 4th one this morning. I'll do it tomorrow. Why was the "little elf" on the corner. About a month after I also met him, I had a terrible thought. Perhaps he was selling the chocolates--the winter equivalent to a lemonade stand. However, there was no sign and he never said anything. I didn't think to ask him why he was thee at the time. I hope he was there just because it was Christmas and he wanted to do random acts of kindness. The thing about these small encounters is I don't realize that they have special meaning until much later. Thus I end up with unanswered questions. P.S. I agree with you about elf on a shelf. I confess: I added it in to get my word count up.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      And why not? The word count is important and it was relevant and interesting! I think we can tell when stuff is added just for numbers because there's usually no relevance at all.

      Looking forward to the next one.

      Ann

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks again, Ann, for your reassurance that I made the right choice.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      That was interesting on several levels. First, it's interesting to know about your son's participation in the tuba festival for so many years. I am impressed.

      Secondly, I'm intrigued by the boy. Why was he passing out candy, and not just any candy, but those nice chocolates. Why was he so shy about it? Was he there by choice?

      Thirdly, I'm with you on the elf on a shelf/santa thing. Your Orwellian, big brother comments are both interesting and estute. Why do we lie to manipulate our children in December but teach them not to lie and manipulate the other 11 months of the year? That's a whole 'nother article altogether.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      That was interesting on several levels. First, it's interesting to know about your son's participation in the tuba festival for so many years. I am impressed.

      Secondly, I'm intrigued by the boy. Why was he passing out candy, and not just any candy, but those nice chocolates. Why was he so shy about it? Was he there by choice?

      Thirdly, I'm with you on the elf on a shelf/santa thing. Your Orwellian, big brother comments are both interesting and estute. Why do we lie to manipulate our children in December but teach them not to lie and manipulate the other 11 months of the year? That's a whole 'nother article altogether.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you for your comments. My son was adopted at age 5 and already believed in Santa. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was fake. I decided I'd let him believe, but when he asked me, I'd tell him the truth. When he was 8, at kid at school told him the truth. I told him it was just a game that moms and dads play with their kids. (I like to think he had been mine from birth, I might have told him it was just a game from the start. However, I did the tooth fairy and Easter bunny lies, so who knows.) When he was in his late teens I asked him if he had any feelings about being lied to. He said, he was fine with it. It was just a game. It is awkward --lying to our kids. Thank you for your thought provoking comment.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      This reminds me of a game my parents played with us about the tooth fairy. I'm going to write about it very soon.

      If either one of my children had been enamored with Santa Claus I may have gone along with it. As it was they, like me, are pretty literal people and ask way too many questions to make the game worth playing.

      The down side for those of us not going along with the game is that our kids are the ones who blow it for the other little ones-like your son.

      I sure am glad I'm past all of those difficult "should I", "should I not" parenting dilemmas. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      My son really wanted to believe in Santa. Every time I thought he had figured it out, he himself would explain his own question away. I wrote a piece about this and it was published in an anthology. "Not Your Mother's Book: On Parenting." It's quite funny.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      That was a beautiful Christmas story Catherine. I hope that chocolate santa brought you good luck. Perhaps the boy was a mute and that is why he did not speak. I voted up and shared it.

      I just have one question. Up top you said that the story was about a little elf that you almost met. In the story you did meet him.

      Kevin

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Your story was lovely Catherine. I hope the little elf you met felt as much joy as you did from your encounter.

      As for the elf on the shelf, that little elf was around when I was a little girl (a long time ago) but don't remember the story attached to it until recently. Even as a grandmother I have an elf but he just hangs out and moves around my house, no pressure on my grandson....I leave that to his mother at home.

      Voted your hub up, useful, and interesting.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      The Examiner: Thanks for describing my story as "beautiful." I explain in the hub, that "almost met" means it is a brief encounter with a stranger and even tho you may speak or touch, it is still an "almost" met situation. I wrote: "The encounter is too brief for an exchange of names. We may speak or touch, but we haven’t really met—hence the title, 'People Almost Met.'” Call it poetic license. "People I Met Only for a Minute and Then Never Saw Again" doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Thanks for your comment, Kevin.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      tillsontirian; Thank you for voting up my little story. Your comments about elf-on-the-shelf are interesting. Perhaps it goes back further than I thought; but the little elf "craze," as you say, is only in the past few years. I'm glad to hear you don't use the elf to "stress" your grandson. Kids today have so much stress already.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Sorry Catherine. I guess that I was so 'engrossed' in reading your story that I did not notice it.

      Kevin

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
      Author

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      No problem. I'm just glad you liked it.

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