Friday, December 2, 2011

To Catch an Elf

Caleb is 23 years old and has Down's Syndrome. He works as a grocery clerk and is fastidious about the excellence of his work.

A charming aspect of Caleb is that while he is very rooted in the real world and understands handling his money, taking care of himself and being a productive citizen, he also still loves the fantasy part of childhood. He has known the truth about Santa Claus for many years, but continues to believe in his heart of hearts that Santa really does exist and that his North Pole workshop is a busy place all the year round.

Caleb decided earlier this year that it was time for him to experience life on his own. He dialogued with his parents for months about having his own apartment. Initially reluctant, his parents painstakingly worked out a plan for Caleb and spent another several months going over all the aspects with him. When they were satisfied this was going to be a viable lifestyle for him, his mother reminded him of her most important rule. "Caleb, when I call you, you have to answer, no matter what. I will be very worried about you if I call and you do not answer the phone."

"Mom, don't worry about me. I will always answer the phone for you," he assured her.

Caleb had been in his new apartment less than a mile away from his parents for several weeks and the transition was amazingly smooth. He answered promptly every time they called, took good care of himself and his apartment, and continued to work very hard at his job.

One Saturday morning, his mother called Caleb and the phone rang until it went to voice mail. She waited 15 minutes, called again, and had the same result.  Growing concerned, she waited another 15 minutes, and when she called this time and still had no answer, she grabbed her purse and headed to the car to drive to his place.

On the way over, she called him again. This time, he answered.

"Caleb, what is happening? I've been so worried! I've been calling you and you haven't answered!"

Caleb was a little breathless but sounded in high spirits. "Don't worry, Mom. I'm OK. I answered it now."

"What were you doing?" she inquired with some worry.

"Well, Mom, I was busy. I was catching an elf," he informed her.

His mother knew all too well of Caleb's firm belief in the real Santa Claus and his helpers.

"An elf? Caleb, are you sure?"

"Yes, Mom. I caught an elf," he repeated.

"I'm almost there, son. We'll talk more then."

His mother could not imagine what scenario would be awaiting her, but it gave her comfort that Caleb sounded well and happy.

The first thing she noticed upon arriving at Caleb's apartment was that the front door was slightly ajar. Her heart raced a little faster as she pushed it opened. Her stomach did a flip flop as she walked into the living room and saw complete chaos. Furniture was overturned, a lamp was broken, and paper was scattered on the floor.

"Caleb!" she yelled.

"Mom, I'm in the kitchen fixing a sandwich. Come on in, " he called back to her.

She zipped into the kitchen and her heart fell even further when she saw the disarray there. A chair was upside down, some plates had fallen to the floor, and the table was catty corner to its usual position.

"Oh, honey, what has happened?"

Caleb turned from the counter where he was building his sandwich. His blond hair was disheveled and he was sweating. He grinned. 'I told you, Mom, I was catching an elf! He's supposed to be at the North Pole right now, so I wanted to keep him safe for Santa."

His mother's mind raced, trying to make sense of the scene and his words.

"Can you explain to me a little more? I'm just not understanding," she implored.

Caleb put down the sandwich and took his mom's hand gently, as if she were a small child. "Mom, I caught an elf. It was a lot of work, and now I'm hungry, so I'm making a sandwich," he explained to her slowly.

Deciding to go with the flow, his mother asked, "OK. Then where is the elf?"

Caleb pointed to the closet, which had a chair jammed under the door handle. "He's in there, Mom!"

His mother eyed the door warily. She drew closer and heard muffled noises from within and the door knob rattled.

"Be careful, Mom. He's fast for an old guy."

She took a deep breath and pulled the chair away from the door. She pulled it open.

There, red faced and in a corner of the closet, was an older man who was a dwarf. He had a white goatee. He was also spitting mad.

The story that unfolded was that this man had been knocking on doors and passing out tracts for the Jehovah Witnesses. He asked Caleb if he could come in and that's when the action commenced.

After much explaining and talking, the elderly dwarf was convinced not to press charges. Caleb now knows that elves have to go free and will find their way back to Santa on their own.

Caleb chuckles when people try to explain to him that Santa isn't real. He's had the proof right there in his kitchen. Sometimes the regular people in his life aren't too swift, but he loves them anyway.


  1. OH, my gosh, that poor old man!! The risks of being a Jahova Witness, I suppose!! That is a great story!! I bet his mom felt soooooo bad!!!!

    OH, the innocence of a child, his whole life. What a blessed man Caleb is. I always look at those adults with....don't know the right terminology anymore.....special abilities? That they are soooo close to God. We have about 4 friends that bus to our church and sit right behind us in church and they are so full of love and love seeing our kiddos! Although, one of them gets very bothered by anything that falls on the floor, and that happens quite often!!

    Great story Shelly!!

  2. You shouldn't have worried about posting this cute story, Shelly. You told it in a most respectful way. I can relate because the young man who bags groceries at my supermarket has Down's. I always notice how methodically and meticulously he goes about his job. My wife's 50 year old brother is retarded and has many peculiar habits. He is obsessed with Elvis Presley, tape measures, keys, coins and currency and wallets just to name a few. He will take your stuff if it's not nailed down. He always keeps busy doing things that don't really need done like sweeping a driveway for an hour when it was already clean. He does things like that because he needs to feel useful. He's always getting into some kind of mischief and requires watching. He will be staying as our house guest for two weeks over the Christmas holidays and it will be a test of my patience and tolerance, my compassion and my unconditional love.

  3. Jamie Jo: They have some of the purest souls in our earth. And yes, I have known one who would get very upset with any noise out of order. And yes, Caleb's mom and dad felt really bad about it, but they've decided all's well that ends well, and have told him he can't catch any more elves, period!

  4. Shady: Bless your hearts- I know he will so enjoy being with you all over the holidays. It is sometimes a test of patience, but you're right- they just want to feel useful like anyone else. I have a cousin like that, and her peculiarities are just some of the things that endear her to us. I hope things go well with your brother in law's visit!

  5. That was a precious story and you had me on the edge of my seat all the way wondering what had actually happened. Very good post.

  6. Another reason I don't knock on doors at Christmas time....

  7. Odie: Only something true life could be this bizarre!

  8. Clint: I have a feeling the elderly dwarf will be giving up knocking on doors...

  9. Another reason I don't ANSWER doors at Christmas time ... actually most of the time.

    This was a cute and entertaining story, Shelly, I enjoyed it very much! I still want to believe in elves, Santa, fairies, mermaids ...

  10. Cindy: Oh, I do, too! Maybe in my heart of hearts I still do believe, a little bit...

  11. My hand was on my mouth when I came to the part about an elderly man being in the closet! This is a great story, Shelly. I'm so glad the man didn't press charges. My granddaughter Faith has obsessive/compulsive disorder and it takes a great deal of patience sometimes. Once she is on a subject, she can't seem to think of anything else and talks of it incessantly. She also sleeps until 4pm and goes to bed at 6am. She feels someone needs to be awake in the night in case something happens. She is also intelligent, fun and wonderful and we love her so much.

  12. This is so cute, Shelly, and I do agree that you posted this with respect and with dignity for all involved. Too funny though! Got to love Caleb and his exuberance to finally have had his dream come true of seeing an elf!

    My 32 y/o nephew has Down syndrome. He still lives at home; I'm not sure how he would manage on his own so I salute Caleb and his parents for taking the chance and having him live on his own! I do have to say with my nephew, he knows scripture really well; he can quote it and he can explain it; puts my 22 y/o to shame with it!

    thanks for sharing this story, Shelly; so glad you did!


  13. Dearest Shelly!!!
    Oh, what a relief Caleb wasn't pressed charges.
    I pray for him to have Lovely Christmas and I leared how pure these people's minds are again, my friend. Thank you for sharing this story♪
    Blessing to you from east, xoxo Orchid*

  14. My neice has Down's syndrome. She is resigning to herself more now that she is getting closer to puberty. I feel sad for her, as she was quite perkey as a kid.
    I am glad tha Caleb is involved with people. So he believes in Santa Claus. Let him. We all need something to hang on to as a belief or even a glimmer of hope. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope that Caleb's Holidays are filled with joy:)

  15. Belle: I just about fell out of the chair when my mom told me who was in the closet. (My parents are friends of his family.) I think our quirks make us all the more endearing. Faith sounds like someone who is wonderful to know! :)

  16. Betty: I think it's very brave of his parents to let him go on his own like that. I would be much too clingy. Your nephew sounds terrific- we should all be that diligent!

  17. Orchid: I, too, am so thankful the police weren't called because it was all done innocently. I receive your blessings and send mine to you, my friend!

  18. Munir: Thank you- I hope the same for Caleb. As far as your niece, I hope she will soon be able to recapture that spark. Puberty is difficult no matter what. Let's hope she goes through it quickly and finds her perkiness again.

  19. Hahaha! Great story! I laughed out loud about the poor dwarf man.

    I do believe in elves. I do! I do! I do! ;)

  20. So let me get this right...are you trying to say that elves aren't real? I'm going to have to sit you down with Caleb and I and explain how this all works Shelly!!

    I haven't been as lucky as Caleb to actually capture an elf, but when I see one I'll remember the locking him in the closet trick!
    Way to go Caleb!

  21. Crystal: I believe now, myself!

  22. Sush: Yes, lock them in and bolt the door because they can run pretty fast, no matter their age! Caleb was as proud as proud could be- I think he's goig to do fine on his own. :)

  23. Something's in the air. I don't know how many times I have thought to myself this week that real life is just as wild and exciting as fiction.

  24. Missed Periods: There some things you just can't script!

  25. What a fun & sweet story! I feel bad for the "elf", though. It was an innocent mistake!

  26. Kelley: It was the most innocent of mistakes, and hopefully the "elf" doesn't ever have that happen to him again~

  27. Shelly, what a sweet story and what a surprising ending.
    Holiday Blessings to you and yours

  28. gloW: Thank you so much for stopping by! I had the same reaction to the ending when I first heard it- it was totally unexpected. I'm headed over to your blog right now-

  29. :-) As a former door-to-door salesman, I have to tell you that being mistaken for an elf and held against your will is just one of the job's many pitfalls...


  30. Pearl: That's a terrible occupational hazard!

  31. How did I miss this story! I have tears of laughter running down my cheeks! That the man was a Jehovah's Witness is the killer punch line! I'm sorry I'm laughing because that really could have been a serious situation for Caleb, his parents and the man who chose to be understanding. God bless his heart! Thank goodness this story had a happy ending. Merry Christmas to you Shelly! Thank you so much for being such a wonderful friend. I hope your week is filled with joy, laughter and love.

  32. Jenny: I, too, am so glad he didn't get into trouble. It could have been so much worse!


I love to hear from you! I also love to comment back.