Let's begin with the first tale, the one more commonly known today as The Shoemaker and the Elves. I think this is a cute tale about a tired, poor shoemaker and his wife. One night the shoemaker cuts the material to make a pair of shoes, the only material that he can afford. He is so tired that he simply leaves the materials set out for the night to return to in the morning after he has a bit of sleep. The next morning, he discovers a perfect little pair of shoes. A customer arrives, so pleased with the handiwork, and pays the shoemaker more than listed for the product, allowing the shoemaker to afford enough material for two pair of shoes. The next night, he does the same . . . cuts and prepares to make the shoes, but is so tired that he sets it out with the intention of finishing them the next day. And once again, he wakes up to two perfect pairs of shoes complete! The same thing continues to happen every night, doubling each time and making the shoemaker and his wife rich beyond belief. They decide to stay up one night to see who has blessed them with so many riches and discover little naked elves appear! They decide to repay the elves by surprising them with their very own little clothes. The elves love their gift and never return, but the shoemaker and his wife live happily ever after!
I think this is a cute little tale and one that I wish could be a reality! I mean, there are so many times that I go to bed without doing my dinner dishes or folding my laundry. Wouldn't it be great to wake up to little elves who have taken care of it all for me?!? On a more serious note, I do truly enjoy a couple of different lessons from this tale. The first is simply the act of kindness. These elves helped the shoemaker and his wife with no expectation of getting something in return. They did it to help the couple and they did it with joy! The second is that the act of kindness was returned just for the sake of kindness. Like I said before, payment was not expected on either side. They simply saw a need (elves saw a help with the shoe business, the couple saw naked men that needed warm clothes) and filled it. Neither was something extravagant. The simple things made the world of difference.
The other two tales I was not familiar with at all. In the "Second Story," the elves invite a servant girl to a christening as the child's godmother. They persuade her to stay for three days before returning to her master family, providing her with a pleasant time and showering her with gifts of money before she sets out on her journey home. Upon her arrival, she immediately returns to work and is confronted by strangers, discovering that she was truly gone for seven years and her former masters now dead. The "Third Story" is the shortest of them all and involves a child kidnapped by elves, replaced by a changeling. The mother tricks the changeling and results in the return of her child.
Neither of the latter tales I really cared for. I personally preferred the positive spin on the little men instead of the elves being seen as tricksters or evildoers. In fact, I am going to just pretend that I never read them and will just stick with the first story in the tale!
Which tale of The Elves was your favorite? Did you see a recurring theme or lesson in any of them?
Friday, December 24th: The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Friday, December 31st: Thumbling by The Brothers Grimm
Friday, January 7th: The Ice Maiden by Hans Christian Andersen
Friday, January 14th: Your Choice, Classic or Modern!
Friday, January 21st: Fairy Tale Fridays Happy Ending & Wrap-Up Post