Editor's note: This is the fifth of six winners in The Deseret News' annual Christmas writing contest, "Christmas I Remember Best." See the first winner here, the second winner here, the third winner here, the fourth winner here and the sixth winner here.
The year was 1955. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," was riding high in America, as millions of children fell in love with his suspiciously red nose and saucy antlers.
The old reliables: Dancer, Prancer, Cupid, Dasher and Vixen had been relegated to the back of the pack, as Santa had made Rudolph his lead. I usually dream in Technicolor, but one winter night, I seemed to be dreaming in three dimensions.
At first, I thought it was Santa, himself; but no, he looked more like a generously-sized elf. I saw him running up and down a staircase as I heard in my mind these remarkable lines:
"Elvin the Christmas Elf simply was beside himself, for Santa had told him, "You'll have to stay behind. You see," said Santa, with a wink, "the trouble here is this that: my sleigh will be so full, I think, and you have grown so fat." Over and over again, I heard those lines in my dream, and as I memorized them, more lines came to me.
I was actually dreaming a song about this Christmas elf, named Elvin. I also found myself humming the tune. I slipped out of bed and found a pad of manuscript paper and a pen. Amazingly, the words to the song jumped out of my dream onto the paper.
"You've stuffed yourself with sugar plums, and pies and curds and whey, that I'm afraid when Christmas comes, you won't fit in my sleigh. So, Elvin did his exercise, and lost them, pound by pound; and fasted down to elfin size, when Christmas Eve came 'round."
I could almost see Elvin sitting beside me on the kitchen chair. He was real. And here, I was writing what I had dreamed about him.
I soon had the music to "Elvin the Christmas Elf" written down on the page. With my trusty typewriter, I typed out the words to the song, and placed them, just where they belonged.
Next, was the cover for the song. I needed a photograph of Elvin for the cover. My wife, Helen, found some red fabric and sewed up an elf hat with the name, "ELVIN" glued on it. She also made an elf costume.
Next, was a large pair of elf ears, which I had located. Our 5-year-old Merrie Kristy, who had actually been born on Christmas Day 1950, was photographed in the costume, and she became Elvin the Christmas Elf on the cover of the song.
As Christmas Day approached, we found many places to perform Elvin the Christmas Elf with our family. Our fame reached impresario Eugene Jelesnick of KSL Television. He invited us to its Salt Lake studio to perform "Elvin" on his weekly program.
Our automobile was a 1951 Kaiser car. We had decided to take delivery of the car without a built-in heater, hoping for mild Utah winters. The day before we were to drive from Orem to Salt Lake to perform "Elvin," it snowed six inches. It also was very cold.
How could we drive our family to Salt Lake without a heater in the car? Trusty wife, Helen, came to the rescue. As a child, she had heated rocks in her mother's oven, to warm the bed in her cold bedroom. And there were several loose clay bricks in our garage. Surely, they would work just as well as rocks.1 comment on this story
In spite of the snowy, cold weather, our family was quite comfortable on the chilly drive to Salt Lake City. We arrived at the KSL studio on Social Hall Avenue at the appointed time. We were warmly greeted by Eugene Jelesnick, as people in the studio began sniffing the air with puzzled looks.
Someone said, "It smells like a brickyard in here." We then realized that we had brought into the studio the fragrant odor of the heated bricks from our car, which had permeated our clothes. Indeed, our family smelled, powerfully, like a brickyard. Maestro Jelesnick smiled and exclaimed, "Well, thank goodness, we are not on smellavision!"
Fortunately, we were not evicted from the studio, and when our moment of celebrity arrived, we stepped up to the microphones and sang, clearly, to the world: "So, Elvin hopped up in the sleigh, right next to Santa Claus, and you can see him there, today, whenever reindeer pause. So, let him sit upon your shelf this happy Christmas Eve, for he is Santa's Christmas Elf, who'll help you to believe!"
Over the years, "Elvin the Christmas Elf" has been sung, and been a virtually living member of our family for over a half century. The prototype for Elvin, Merrie Kristy Weeks Hudson, became the music specialist at Orem Elementary School, where students still smile at her Elvin cover and sing "Elvin the Christmas Elf" at Christmas time.