Our Elf on a Shelf is named Dandy. He arrives each year just after Thanksgiving, and he stays with us through Christmas. The boys delight in looking for him as he magically moves around the house. He’s not particularly mischievous, or even hard to find (and, eh hem, sometimes he forgets to move at all until one of the boys points out that he has been in the same place for a couple of days). Yet somehow he manages to generate over a month of little joys that string together into a magical anticipation of the big day. When he leaves for the year at Midnight on Christmas, he always leaves a note.

This year his note revealed a very important secret that I thought I’d share with you.

Hi Boys,

Thank you for playing with me again this year. I hope you enjoy the magic of this special time of year and hold that magic in your heart forever. This year I am going to tell you a secret about what makes me so magical.

When you look for me, you do so with excitement, hope and enthusiasm – and you always expect to find me. When you do find me, you smile and laugh and feel proud of yourself for your discovery, and you show excitement to see me, because I have come to represent for you something very fun and very playful. Looking for me makes you happy.

The real secret that I want to share with you is that the JOY you feel does not come from inside of me, it is already always inside of you. When you look for me, and find me, the joy that is sitting inside of you is brought to life. And it is kept alive because you believe in me. I am only magical because you believe in me. I am not magical to those who do not believe in me. I am so glad you believe in me.

I am playful, fun, full of surprise and I am everywhere, all around you. I am the joy that you feel when you look for me, and I am the happiness inside of you when I am found.

Even though you will not see me again until next year, the magic secret still works on everything, all of the time. Keep looking for things that bring you joy. I am only one of a million little things that can make you happy. And the magic comes from looking for these things – never stop looking for things that make you happy. I promise you this, if you look for joy in your life everyday you will always find it.

I love you,

He’s a wise old elf indeed. When we look for things that bring us joy, we are happy. As you move into 2015, if you have only one resolution to make it a better year, resolve to look for something, even just one thing, that brings you joy each day for the next 365 days, and I predict you will have a very joyful year no matter what lies ahead for you.