We've caught him playing poker with the teddy bears, hot-tubbing with the Barbies, and his powers of persuasion aren't what they used to be.
Sure, Elvin (as we call him) was great fun when he first came to visit. We'd plot out new hiding places each night, and the children would dart downstairs every morning to seek him out. That creepy blank stare from behind a plant or above the picture frame has been a fantastic behavioral management tool. "Be careful! Elvin is watching...", my husband and I would nod with proper seriousness.
Now the children have begun to question if he's real.
I suppose it's our fault, really, after so many near misses. I've grown weary of those early morning moments of panic - trying to smuggle that damn Elf from one room to another because ONE of us forgot to do it, terrified of being caught red-felt handed.
We've run out of excuses for those days when he didn't move. Last week I actually told my daughter it was her fault because she touched him and his magic wore off. I was ready to end the charade right there.
But I didn't.
William Wordsworth's poem rang in my head. "The world is too much with us..."
The world IS too much with us.
Remember the time when the twinkle of Christmas lights made your heart flutter with excitement instead of pound with stress? That time of magic is precious and fleeting. I realized I wanted to preserve it as long as possible.
So we discovered that if a disabled Elf is sprinkled with Christmas cookie decorating sugar... he or she is revived.
Elvin is back to lurking around our house, and belief has returned for at least one more holiday season.
Now, if I catch him swinging from the ceiling fan or fishing out of the toilet one more time...