Archived Story

Long live Hermie the elf

Published 9:13am Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our elf’s name is Hermie, and he’s been with us for about three years now.

Hermie comes down from the North Pole each morning before the children are awake, checks on their behavior that day, and then heads back north each night after their bedtime to give Santa a full report. Most of the time, he’s able to give a glowing recommendation, but since they’re still only 7 and 4 and I don’t think Santa’s looking for perfection, Hermie has given Whitman and Stella a pass on more than a few occasions. Hermie usually shows up somewhere around Thanksgiving and stays right on up until Christmas Eve, when he heads back to the North Pole with his boss after Santa’s made his delivery.

Now, legend has it that our elf is supposed to stay on the shelf each day when he comes to visit, but Hermie’s a funny little guy and tends to wind up in some unusual places around our house.

Most every morning, the first thing the kids do when they come downstairs is to go tearing around the house trying to find their elf, squealing joyously when they spot him but remaining ever mindful not to touch him, lest he lose his ability to fly home that night to check in with Santa. Whitman’s never really come close to breaking that law, but I’m certain that if she didn’t think she’d get caught, Stella’s urge to hug Hermie would probably overtake her.

Last year on Christmas morning, when Stella went looking for Hermie and we had to remind her that he’d gone home for the year with Santa the night before, she cried the kind of real tears that break her daddy’s heart. That’s the kind of bond my children have formed with Hermie over the last few years, and I hope it remains that way forever.

But it won’t, and I’m reminded of that fact on a daily basis. One of the things I don’t like about being a parent — and trust me, there aren’t many — is seeing how fast my kids are racing through childhood. With each pair of outgrown shoes that gets thrown on the pile in the closet, and with each time I see a pair of bony ankles sticking out of the bottom of another pair of relatively new jeans, I’m reminded of how fleeting my time with them as little ones truly is.

As a dad who adores his children, that’s a hard reality to bear. I know my days of hugs and kisses in public are numbered. I know the evenings we spend together with them all bundled up in their pajamas watching Spongebob in my lap won’t last forever. And I know the questions my son is beginning to ask about some of Santa’s logistical dilemmas will soon lead to questions about his magical abilities that I won’t have any answers for.

And that’s precisely why I love Hermie so much, too. Hermie’s arrival each year does more than signal to the kids that Santa’s arrival is imminent. It provides me with the experience of sharing my kid’s joy and excitement that only comes when you anticipate Christmas morning with the heart of a child. And, like taking them to the theater to see a 3-D movie, Hermie’s presence provides me with my own pair of magic glasses that, if for just a few brief weeks, allows me to see things in the same special sort of way that my children do through their own magical eyes.

My children aren’t the only ones who are going to miss Hermie when he goes home with Santa on Christmas Eve, and like them, I really hope he comes back again next year. But because I know there may one day come a time when he doesn’t return, I make it a point to pay extra attention to the time we have with him now, how much my children enjoy having him visit, and the way he helps bring the magic of Christmas to life in our house.

Christmas is a special time, and I hope that even if you don’t have a Hermie of your own, each of you take the time to experience a little bit of Christmas magic this season. Here’s wishing a Merry Christmas to you all, and to Hermie, hope to see ya again next year.

TONY CLARK is the general manager and advertising director at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at tony.clark@tidewaternews.com.

Our elf’s name is Hermie, and he’s been with us for about three years now.
Hermie comes down from the North Pole each morning before the children are awake, checks on their behavior that day, and then heads back north each night after their bedtime to give Santa a full report. Most of the time, he’s able to give a glowing recommendation, but since they’re still only 7 and 4 and I don’t think Santa’s looking for perfection, Hermie has given Whitman and Stella a pass on more than a few occasions. Hermie usually shows up somewhere around Thanksgiving and stays right on up until Christmas Eve, when he heads back to the North Pole with his boss after Santa’s made his delivery.
Now, legend has it that our elf is supposed to stay on the shelf each day when he comes to visit, but Hermie’s a funny little guy and tends to wind up in some unusual places around our house.
Most every morning, the first thing the kids do when they come downstairs is to go tearing around the house trying to find their elf, squealing joyously when they spot him but remaining ever mindful not to touch him, lest he lose his ability to fly home that night to check in with Santa. Whitman’s never really come close to breaking that law, but I’m certain that if she didn’t think she’d get caught, Stella’s urge to hug Hermie would probably overtake her.
Last year on Christmas morning, when Stella went looking for Hermie and we had to remind her that he’d gone home for the year with Santa the night before, she cried the kind of real tears that break her daddy’s heart. That’s the kind of bond my children have formed with Hermie over the last few years, and I hope it remains that way forever.
But it won’t, and I’m reminded of that fact on a daily basis. One of the things I don’t like about being a parent — and trust me, there aren’t many — is seeing how fast my kids are racing through childhood. With each pair of outgrown shoes that gets thrown on the pile in the closet, and with each time I see a pair of bony ankles sticking out of the bottom of another pair of relatively new jeans, I’m reminded of how fleeting my time with them as little ones truly is.
As a dad who adores his children, that’s a hard reality to bear. I know my days of hugs and kisses in public are numbered. I know the evenings we spend together with them all bundled up in their pajamas watching Spongebob in my lap won’t last forever. And I know the questions my son is beginning to ask about some of Santa’s logistical dilemmas will soon lead to questions about his magical abilities that I won’t have any answers for.
And that’s precisely why I love Hermie so much, too. Hermie’s arrival each year does more than signal to the kids that Santa’s arrival is imminent. It provides me with the experience of sharing my kid’s joy and excitement that only comes when you anticipate Christmas morning with the heart of a child. And, like taking them to the theater to see a 3-D movie, Hermie’s presence provides me with my own pair of magic glasses that, if for just a few brief weeks, allows me to see things in the same special sort of way that my children do through their own magical eyes.
My children aren’t the only ones who are going to miss Hermie when he goes home with Santa on Christmas Eve, and like them, I really hope he comes back again next year. But because I know there may one day come a time when he doesn’t return, I make it a point to pay extra attention to the time we have with him now, how much my children enjoy having him visit, and the way he helps bring the magic of Christmas to life in our house.
Christmas is a special time, and I hope that even if you don’t have a Hermie of your own, each of you take the time to experience a little bit of Christmas magic this season. Here’s wishing a Merry Christmas to you all, and to Hermie, hope to see ya again next year.

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