Please enjoy this Holiday Story I wrote about the importance of living your purpose.
During a time of year when elves all over the world hung from light fixtures, peeked out from chimneys, and hid behind kitchen appliances, there was a particular elf named Hans who remained in a garage packed in a cardboard box marked “Christmas.”
Hans sat just as he had for the last 11 months with his face smashed against folded stockings and his body contorted around a nutcracker. He coughed up a cloud of dust and wondered how the Green family could have forgotten him and his fellow tokens of holiday cheer this year.
Outside the box in the garage, the Greens scurried about. Each day Mr. and Mrs. Green intended to make the next the one to decorate their home in the magic of Christmas. But things kept coming up. Noah had a history test. Madeline had a science project. Mr. Green had to stay late at the office. Mrs. Green had to make her famous spiced rum cake for a gathering with the ladies.
Well into the month of December, Hans awoke wiggling between his nutcracker and stocking companions. He stretched out his legs and lifted his arms to the sky, doing the best calisthenics an elf could manage in a cramped little space. Even though he missed a good part of his season, he wanted to be ready when his day came.
Hans thought back to those shining moments – once each year – when Mrs. Green took him out of his box, calling him into holiday duty. It would all begin when the scents of Thanksgiving’s turkey and pumpkin pies no longer filled the air. Hans would hear Mr. Green in the garage yelling back to Mrs. Green about where exactly he could find the Christmas box.
Sounds of rustling and piling would make Hans’s heart pound with anticipation. Suddenly, his box would go airborne and he would brace himself as he and his fellow contents were carried from the dark garage into the house. And then he would see the year’s first light shine through the crack between misaligned cardboard flaps.
A spark would fire up inside him. Energy would shoot through his system making his cheeks perfectly rosy for his big Christmas welcome. He’d get a last few good stretches in. And then the flaps would open and the light would flood in.
Each year, this moment drew Hans into a deep presence that allowed him to take in seemingly every aspect of his surroundings – the scents, sounds, twinkles, and feelings. Mrs. Green would reach for him and parade him around the house looking for his first out-of-box resting spot, the place where Madeline or Noah would find him soon enough.
Mr. Green would tell Mrs. Green to hurry because the kids would be home soon. She’d look back at him. And then, they’d play around with a few choices together, finally landing Hans in the year’s first and most special resting spot.
Hans would look back and see the two of them staring at him. Mr. Green would have his arm wrapped around Mrs. Green and she’d be nestled into his shoulder. It was as if Hans could see all the hope in the world in their eyes. This was Hans’s favorite moment of the year.
In Mr. and Mrs. Green’s gaze, Hans saw the satisfaction of a choice made well together and how that shared experience invited them to relax into each other. They would smile in unison as they realized their mutual gladness in creating an experience that would bring joy to their children in the moments to come.
Over the years, Hans had watched the Greens create many experiences that breathed life into Noah and Madeline’s imaginations, fostering in each of them a great sense of wonder. He wondered what that kind of love was like. Being a part of all that rested between Mr. and Mrs. Green as they gazed back at him was Hans’s greatest honor. He felt like the luckiest elf alive.
Until this year. December 15th and no rustling in the garage. No wondering where the Christmas box was. No mention of Hans at all.
And then…he heard a loud voice from the top floor of the house. It was Madeline.
“She said my name!” thought Hans excitedly. He stretched out and listened.
Hans heard Mrs. Green try to calm Madeline, “I know this has been a hard year, Madeline. I am sorry you heard mommy and daddy fighting.”
Madeline interjected, “You scared Hans away! Hans didn’t want to come to our house this year, and I wish I didn’t have to be here either!”
“What?!” Hans started to panic, “But I am here, Madeline,” he thought.
If only his maker didn’t leave his mouth glued shut. Hans shifted his weight away from the uncomfortable nutcracker and back onto the softer stockings. His heart sank. He had been ready for duty. Didn’t they know? Why hadn’t someone come to get him?
And then Hans came to know something he never had before. It was as if a dark cloud came over him. He thought for the first time that he had no purpose. There would be no coming to light this year. He wouldn’t see Mr. and Mrs. Green looking back at him in mutual satisfaction. There would be no blissful reunion with his favorite kids, Noah and Madeline. Hans felt energy like the kind that made his cheeks rosy shoot though his body. But this time, it spilled out his eyes as tears.
Time passed a little more slowly for Hans over the next day that felt more like a few. He wondered if the chimney smoke had somehow found its way to settle over his box. The air looked cloudy to him. He could hear arguing on and off in the distance but it didn’t move him at all. He had let go of caring or hoping or wondering if he could help the Green family find their way again.
And then amidst his sadness one day, when the loneliness felt too much to bear, Hans started to think about where he came from and how he could maybe get back there. If he wasn’t wanted here anymore, there had to be a way back. He vaguely recalled a place where snow glittered, creativity flourished, and icing flowed freely on tap.
He smiled as he remembered the North Pole, and it occurred to Hans that he must have had a Creator. He didn’t remember who made him, but he knew that He existed.
Hans remembered that as his Creator packaged him up, He whispered to him like He did each of the elves on the line, “I will always be with you. You are never alone. You’re going out into the world to do the very important work of helping people remember how to love. You will bring people joy. And then things will change for you. Remember me when things are hard. I made you with my bare hands, using my creative gifts. May my love always restore you.”
As the memory replayed in Hans’s mind, he suddenly felt a surge of life go through him. He stretched for the first time in days. And then he heard someone walk into the garage.
It was Mr. Green! “Honey, where’s the Christmas box?”
Was this really happening? Had the day finally come?
Hans felt the box go airborne. He was moving. The crack of light. Bam, his cheeks were rosy. He stretched out towards the top of the box to make sure they saw him as soon as the flaps opened. And moments later, the light, and Mr. and Mrs. Green peering in at him.
dedicated with love to Dave, our AW Circle & Holly