With Christmas approaching faster than an elf on a treadmill, the malls are getting more crowded, wallets are getting lighter, and the line at the post office resembles that for a new attraction at a theme park. But, rather than a fun ride at the end, there’s a government employee selling stamps with the picture of either the baby Jesus or Elvis on them.
This year, I feel a new sort of affinity toward the post-office employee. No matter how disgruntled, snarly, or dismissive, he or she may be, I think of the lines winding out the bakery door and of the gingerbread men whose heads will be chomped without a single thought of their creator’s labor. When I peer through the post office window and see the boxes piled to the ceiling, I survey the organization and work involved with such vivid imagination that I nearly give myself a panic attack. Thank goodness I’m in the cookie department.
At the Big City Neighborhood Bakery, we too have shifted into full gear for these final days before Christmas. New to the bakery, I look up to the man in charge. Although, some call him “Pastry Chef,” I like to think of him as “Head Elf.”
In partnership with Santa Clause, there are hundreds like him who belong to the Brotherhood of Honorary Elves, or the “Christmas Cartel.” A network external to the North Pole, they help make Christmas possible. Whether shipping your bundles from here to Kalamazoo, or frosting your cupcakes red and green, they possess elf-like tendencies.
It’s not easy being Head Elf. Often a thankless job, people overlook those who make their holiday parties possible. Ordering the ingredients, organizing the helper-elves’ work schedules, the stress of deadlines, the long hours, all while trying to behave as a civilized elf should, can take its toll. In fact, our Head Elf at the Big City Neighborhood Bakery has a new “crazy” in his eyes and an increasing tendency to break out into a deranged version of the Single Ladies dance. “This is what happens,” he tells me.
Yet, despite the obvious burdens and physiological damage of being Head Elf, I have an ever-increasing respect for the position. Through his careful organization and preparation (and a little bit of chaos), he is a part of the holiday celebrations of thousands of people. Through hard work, he puts a little more cake into the world and that’s a beautiful thing. Once the celebrations are over and the last pie is boxed and sold, I am certain that there is magic in Christmas. Without flying sleighs, or talking snowmen, or even Santa Claus, people do magical things at Christmastime.