(All the Moms) Long before elves were taking seats on shelves, Santa’s little helpers were visiting my son bearing gifts.

From the time he was 3, the elves penned a poem filled with clues that eventually led to the big present.

Early on it was playsets, Hot Wheels and Legos. Then a scooter, a bike, a skateboard. Later years were devoted to experiences – rock climbing, and rides in a glider and helicopter.

All grown up

He’s 22 now and graduating from college. A few years ago, the elves left this poem (edited for space, as well as rhymes never meant for the general public):

Hello there young Bryson, you must know who it is.

Because this is the season that begins with a ‘tis.

But we learned some bad news, could it really be true?

You’ve changed out your home, the old for the new.

Legally, as elves, we have to forget you,

That as an adult, many gifts we won’t get you.

But what the heck, we’ve always snuck around Santa.

He doesn’t tell us what we can do and what we can’t-a

This is the year we have to change tact,

This is the year we make a new pact.

You know how at weddings they always throw rice?

This time it’s all about giving advice.

Be selfless, give to others, and always be true.

Remember the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Be sincere when you talk, and show come compassion

To those whose troubles have surely come crashin’.

Concerning best character, reach for a pinnacle.

Sarcasm’s fine but avoid being cynical.

Know how lucky you’ve been, you’ve truly been blessed

With good health and smarts and all of the rest.

When others need help, please go to their aid.

And when you need help, do ask unafraid.

When you’re down, reach out, that’s what others are for.

Life is always the best with your friends at the core.

Watch the sun set, sing along with a crowd,

Serve a stranger some dinner, make someone proud.

Enjoy each day at your own unique pace,

Look in the mirror with a smile on your face.

Often times it’s the journey, not the destination

Step off and see things at an unusual station.

Always know joy comes through the small things.

Always appreciate those things that life often brings.

Cause when it comes to life, you only have one.

Do right, help others and always have fun.

This list won’t help you avoid every regret.

But it just may reduce them, on that we would bet.

Perhaps one day you’ll have kids of your own.

Perhaps one day you’ll enter the dad zone.

And you’ll know on that day we’ll surely return.

You know on that day you surely will learn.

That while we must go we’re never quite gone.

We’ll come back some Christmas hours before dawn.

With kids in the house we’ll always be there.

Though we can’t say our search will always be fair.

For now we leave you as you keep getting older,

To Dad who will guide you through warmer and colder.

Know that we love you as we dearly depart,

Not to the North Pole, but that place in your heart.