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I’m a Believer…Not a Trace of Doubt in my Mind

"At one time most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them...Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me...as it does for all who truly believe." (Polar Express)


Back when I was a tiny human, I could hear the bell ring. I very much wanted to believe that a jolly old man in a red and white suit existed, and that on the morning of Christmas day I would find the gifts I wished for under the christmas tree. Santa did not disappoint. I got art supplies, a new Nintendo game (the one and only Animal Crossing Wild World), and a giant pack of food erasers — I just knew Santa and I had a telepathic bond. He was real and I was his biggest believer. 


At some point in my childhood though, I learned that there was more to Christmas than the gifts, holiday cheer, and warm time spent with family. All the kids in my neighborhood had made a deal with old Saint Nicholas and recruited their own personal, 100% plush, in-disguise North Pole elf. I'm talking about Elf on the Shelf, that little mischievous, rosy cheek, rubber face doll that children adore finding in the weirdest places on those December mornings. Here’s how it worked: one could request a visit from Santa's little helper by writing a letter to Santa himself, pleading one’s case of goodness. If you were a good child and an avid believer, you would one day find a plush elf under your tree. Legend says they see and hear everything, and for the magic to work they have to be placed on a shelf before bed with all members of the household fast asleep. During the night, the elf would come to life and cause mischief to the delight of their children and horror of their parents. 


I made my case to Santa after learning about the bizarre stunts my neighbor’s elves were pulling, such as going on spy missions, stealing clothing items, and getting the midnight munchies. Santa did not disappoint and did me one better; he sent an elf for not only me, but for my brother as well. They were a pair of siblings just like us, thus we named them Candy and Cane. 


Candy and Cane blessed our home with a newfound excitement. One day I woke up to find all my family’s clothes sprawled out on the floor after packing the night before for a fun snowboarding trip. My logical elementary school brain figured that my parents couldn’t have done such a thing. My mom was too practical after tediously cramming everything shut to start all over again. I believed in them and their chaotic goodness. 


The moment my faith peaked was the day of my birthday. When I was younger I lived close to the Six Flags amusement park in Southern California. The weather was always hot, so it truly felt like a miracle to wake up one day and find actual snow outside. Not just little flakes falling from the sky, but enough snow to build a cat snowman or ride a saucer down the street. To my surprise, I was sent a letter that it was evidently a birthday gift from my elf! My parents surely could not afford a snow machine to cover the whole town with inches of snow. It was a winter wonderland moment I’d never forget. 


As my brother and I grew older things began to change. One day we received a polite letter from Santa where he told us that the magic and mischief we so loved would come to an end. Though we came to begrudgingly accept this, I still woke up early hoping the magic would remain. The moment I knew it was really over was when I came downstairs one Christmas morning to find two air sealed $20 bills under the tree. As the years went by, the shiny wrapped up boxes were now replaced with a white envelope and crisp bill. It was honestly upsetting at that moment to learn my parents had been the secretive magical man who brought toys to good boys and girls. Now as an adult reflecting on my childhood, I cherish the excitement and memories made during the holidays.

Vivian is a fourth year student majoring in intensive psychology and minoring in computer science. She is a proud student athlete on the UC Santa Cruz Women's Tennis team and a driven student leader. Vivian is passionate about building community, fostering meaningful relationships, and helping others. In her free time she enjoys reading web novels, spending time with her cat Charlie, and doing fun arts & crafts. As a member of Her Campus she hopes to get into more personal, pleasure writing and reading :)
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