Skip to main content

People Almost Met: A Little Elf on the Corner at Tuba Christmas

I'm an author of a book of essays. My poems, essays, and short fiction have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

My Little Elf

I Almost Meet a Little Elf

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 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 other brass instruments 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.

Tuba Christmas performances can be found in many cities in the United States.

Tuba Christmas performances can be found in many cities in the United States.

I See a Little Elf on the Corner

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.

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.

Chocolate Candies

The little elf gave me a foil wrapped candy.

The little elf gave me a foil wrapped candy.

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 the next year, I looked to see if my little elf would be there again. My little elf was not there. I never saw him again.

The Elf on the Shelf

Put the elf under the tree for Christmas morning.

Put the elf under the tree for Christmas morning.

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.

Do this poll just for fun.

© 2014 Catherine Giordano

Related Articles