Category Archives: Christmas

Bernanda Chico, de Elf on our Shelf.


Have you ever heard of Elf on a Shelf?

Our Elf is very interesting… Let me tell you the story.

Twas the night before last and all through the past. Something was lacking but the family had a strong foundation, support and backing. Knowledge was power, love was abundant… and a new member was about to make triumphant. She came on the North winds and ready to deliver the messages from a jolly big guy with cheeks of cherry and a laugh of merry… and then… our story begins.

It is very new to me; I mean I have celebrated Holidays in the winter, but I am new to some of these traditions.

By now through all my story telling I have given testimony about my three growing boys and that I love them so much. I also, need to keep up with what is going on, with their friends, or town, our community, my friend’s social media regarding holiday traditions. This is to make sure that my kids feel a part of the overall group and although some of our traditions are ours, they also compliment with others.

Growing up my mother always included many Jewish customs and cultural events like Hanukkah and the festival of lights and the actual candle lighting. Many different things she taught us that we needed to do, including prayers, the dreidel, gelt. My grandfather “Grampy” reinforced it with the stories of the shtetls of Eastern Europe, which was really more of a gratuity to the workers and their families. Grampy, would give my sister and I, forty dollars each, which was five dollars for each day. This probably was more than what was paid in the shtetls and it was a fortune to us. I Kept this tradition with my children and in their gelt bundle, which I always include the chocolate.

“I have given testimony about my three growing boys and that I love them so much. I also, need to keep up with what is going on, with their friends, or town, our community, my friend’s social media regarding holiday traditions.”


My father who is Catholic, celebrated Three Kings Day. He often didn’t celebrate Christmas as he mentioned it was a Christian holiday not necessarily Catholic in his opinion and what he learned from his country and church in Bolivia, South America. Kings day is also known as the Epiphany, it is the feast that celebrates the revelation of God incarnation as Jesus Christ. This is in the beginning of January. It is also known as the Baptism of Jesus, Three Kings Day, Denha, Little Christmas, Theophany, Timkat, Reyes; just in case you have heard of it.

Around the time, I was a little girl, we would have a Christmas tree sometimes, but we really did not understand the purpose. I guess you can say that it was not until I had turned twelve years old that we really did partake in having a tree. That was because my mother became a born-again Christian and she started to incorporate the tree into our home annually.

My mom was very sick and being ill for the majority of my life, oftentimes it would break my heart because she always needed my help and I felt I couldn’t help her enough. It was in this part of her life that she also started going to Buddha prayers in Central Park, regularly attending Baptist ceremonies and attending as a guest at the Baptist Church, she also increased her visits to The Church of the Immaculate Conception, which my father loved on 14th Street in Manhattan. She continued to go to the Town & Village Synagogue, which we called temple. She did this, because she was extremely sick and she wanted comfort, comfort to know that she was going to be alright.

My husband’s family celebrates Christmas at midnight by placing baby Jesus in the manger. The first time I saw this I thought it was so beautiful. Then they give presents to each other. I am a person who loves to learn and when I saw this in their home, I wanted to understand the tradition, Mama (my husband’s mother) explained that this was a religious day and how her family celebrated with her Church.

The way they had so much emotional joy on this day and in this hour, gave me such insight and a new perspective.

When I became pregnant and had my first son, I decided to take catechism classes. Catechism is a religious education; it outlines the principal tenets of the faith. I made a decision that I wanted to baptize my son, but I was never baptized or bat mitzvah. I needed to fulfill the sacrament to move forward; and I did. The sacraments are religious ceremonies that are as imparting divine grace, such as baptism, the Eucharist (confirmation), reconciliation known as confession or penance, anointing of the sick, marriage and the holy orders.

Started to study the first book or the five testaments and then I read the Torah and Koran, to compare as my mother was fluid in this biblical language. although, you will not hear me recite and quote from these books they are parallel and have taught me a great deal of compassion. I bet you are wondering how this relates to the holiday… it does because the essence here are the miracles; I got that point but I was missing something and it wasn’t my faith.

Our traditions were a combination of so many things. I was not too savvy with the holiday commercial fashions of our times in regard to Christmas celebration. Although I tried to decorate and figure things out, I knew I had joy, happiness, faith, appreciation, and miracles but what could it be. I just could not figure that out.

One holiday my oldest son came home upset. He told me that he did not have Christmas spirit. I asked him what he meant, and he mentioned that his teacher told him that. Needed serious clarification. He told me that all the children in his class could hear the bell. he could not hear it and he was the boy in the story. That the little boy could not hear the jingle bells because he still did not believe in Santa… I in my deepest, thickest voice was like “what story, what boy??” In class they were discussing The Polar Express, I never had the chance to watch this movie, read the original tale or knew anything about it. My middle son he laughed and said he could not hear it either but did not tell anyone.

Realized my children’s foundation and core is solid and the element of fitting in was needed for their social interaction. Wondered is this really important and is there anything else that has gone over my head… Made a plan and I decided to start watch all the holiday movies from my childhood and any I missed from my adulthood. Because although I kept everything pretty generalized, I’d never really dived in deep as I don’t want to leave anyone out however, I left out that dynamic.

Started with Home Alone, Christmas Carol, Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th street, Elf, Diehard, the Gremlins… pretty much anything that was holiday focused and then I moved on to the Hallmark Channel for days hoping to learn something new. Realized I’m missing a lot and then I stumbled across something … Had to admit I was a little skeptic this.

To me it was a little freaky as I am not to found of toys coming to life and running around my house on their own free will reporting back to anyone. Coincidentally, that afternoon when they came home from school they talked about The Elf on the Shelf. Started to realize and notice my family kept posting about their elves on their shelves. This cracked me up because this Elf does hilarious things and goes everywhere. The kids believed in it and that is when I realized it; I saw it right there, in front of me, what I was missing…it was the magic! The magic of believing and how could I have missed that. I believe, it is because I have been stuck in reality. I knew the religion, I understood miracles, I knew the giving, I had the knack for the decoration… I thought I had all the staples, but I didn’t have the magic!

The elf on the shelf is the magic that is needed like the bell on the Polar Express and that is what I had to incorporate. When we had our third baby, this is when we learned about all the Elf and I decided to add it to our traditions. I got to right these wrongs and correct these rights, kind of thinking. Decided, we need an elf on the shelf.

This was a tough decision as you can see through all my pre analyzation before I even got to this point, we need it because it enables the magic. Some may argue that Santa is the magic however we know he lives in the North Pole and this little Elf creates something tangible to the children in the house. I started looking at the Elf on the shelf origin and found out it was written in 2004 and is the, “brainchild of stay-at-home mom Carol Aebersold and her grown twin daughters, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts”. Their story is a sweet one and it had gotten very popular and tells the tale of Elves lives with Santa and during this time of year they come to your home watching over you during Christmas and all the naughty and the nice acts are reported back to the big jolly guy!

According to Pitts, “We had an elf growing up for as long as we can remember. Our elf was named Fisbee, and Fisbee of course would report to Santa Claus at night and be back in a different position in our house the next day…” and “…We loved it. It was a chance for us to tell Santa directly what maybe we might want for Christmas, or to do good deeds so that Santa would know about them.” (Bologna, 2017)

–Christa Pitts, HuffPost Caroline Bologna, December 2017

HuffPost Caroline Bologna, December 2017

So, I went Elf window shopping, and they all looked the same. As I mentioned before I am multicultural, and I need that representation. I am also outnumbered I am in a see of men. Husband, sons, pets… I desperately wanted my Elf to be a female and brown. To me we are brown, and I want that for my family to relate. I found her, she was beautiful and stunning!

What do we name her? The Santa Claus movie with Tim Allen had this amazing character name Bernard the elf. The movie came out in 1994 and it brought me so much happiness. I watched it again and the Elf who was played by David Krumholtz was hilarious. I love this guy and the way he portrayed Bernard. I decided to name our Elf after Bernard and she is Bernanda, Bernanda Chico de Elf.

Bernanda is very sassy and frisky like me she goes all over the whole house. She even made a tick tock about what she is doing. It will be posted on the bottom of his blog. I think she’s an incredible representation and pure magic especially for my children.

Thank you so much for listening about Bernanda Chico de Elf on our shelf, I hope your holiday is filled with magic and joining me on this journey of Fannytasticlife!

Bernanda Chico de Elf on the Shelf


Please reach out and share your funny stories about what your elf is up to.

Make sure to post on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #BernandaThisIsMyElf

We will be having a January FanTribe contest and will pick a winner who will receive a prize!

That hashtag will allow for Bernanda and I to find your post and enter you in as a contestant, which ends December 31, 2020.

Good luck!

Whimsy, hope and idioms…


When Black Friday the largest shopping opportunity before Holiday gift giving happened, we decided to not partake. It doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg to enjoy this day! We actually decided to take a turn and explore some old fashion family fun activities. So, we headed North West to Augusta, NJ with Skyland Stadium in sights; a particular special North Pole; Jerseys own. We were not left out in the cold, in fact the light show is an amazing drive through event.

Skyland Stadium

“The Skylands Region has long been a destination for families to get out and play.”

Skyland Stadium

Tis the season to be jolly and driving, while social distancing. As you pull up to the entryway you will begin to see some of the lights displayed. If it is your first time, when you drive through the line of cars … reviewing the landscape ahead of you, you may have a bah humbug, kind of skeptical attitude or chip on your shoulder. Maybe even pondering that this won’t be as spectacular as it has been advertised. However, once you drive in the feeling of candy canes, lights, reindeer, sleighs, snow, jingle bells, North Pole, I mean the proof is in the pudding! Because they truly decked the halls with bounds of holly, covered in lights that is. Even a North Poll Police Car “NPPD”. An amazing experience to witness.

They also have an amazing Christmas Village that offers so much and for free to all guests. After you have completed the light course, you can park and go right in; truly take it all in. You won’t be disappointed and they socially distance with no lag. Eat, drink and be merry.

    Ride the Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round & Classic Carnival Rides. Enjoy Tasty Treats.
    Hot Cocoa Bar, Ice Cream Shop, S’mores Pit, NJ Lottery Craft Beer Garden & More.
    Get in the Spirit with a Live Nativity Scene, 8ft Polar Bears & Walk-Thru Light Displays.
    Skate your Heart Out this Holiday on our Rink. Sponsored by Pompon Sport Center.

On the first day of Christmas my true love came to me and told me that although this year was rough it wasn’t meant to be, be loving and open to new experiences that are to come, and hope will show itself, just wait and see, as it has already begun.

Being open to new moments of joy allows for new appreciation of the simple pastimes we may have ignored in yester years. Just the other day driving through Randolph we came across some sparkling lights. The lights took over the whole neighborhood. We had to run errands and get home but we were more than delighted, we were filled with childlike whimsy, Fa La La La La, La La, La, La, so we drove up!

Just the other day driving through Randolph we came across…


We lit up like a Christmas tree and although we did not want to impose but we saw a crowd around this house and we knew this was a beacon of holiday fantasy. This is the home of Debbie DaSilva. I asked her how much does it cost, do you accept donations and she replied that, “We do not because we do this from our heart!” Truly, inspiring!

These magical places will fill you with hope and inspiration while lighting your path. Don’t forget to stop and take a look around you as magic is all around us remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thank you for joining me on this whimsical journey of Fannytasticlife!

Complimentary podcast.