Illustration: Maya E Shakur for FREDERICK & SOPHIE

‘On the page’ has always been my happy place. Here, you'll find me talking to my characters about their plot and place. Or write down that impossible thought before breakfast and all the little things that add a bit of happily to the everyday. It's where I share my observations, musings, and rants about writing, raising a third-culture city kid around the world, mixed-marriage misunderstandings, being an introverted intercountry adoptee without any sense of belonging (or direction). And ponder about the things I should have said but didn’t, and the things that sounded like a good idea at the time, but really weren’t. Mostly, it’s where I am when I’m going where I have never been before.

Location: Vienna, Austria

T’was the night before Christmas 

and all through the house, 

one creature stirred, 

but it wasn’t a mouse. 

What hopped through the living room was Andy, the elf, 

sent back to the Obermeier family by Santa himself. 

And after 24 mornings of antics and games, 

of hiding in toilet paper towers, baking elf-reos, and getting tangled up in candy canes, 

it was time for the most important elf-assignment of all,

helping Santa make a fireplace out of solid wall,

placing presents under the tree, 

and maybe even drinking a sip of milk and tasting a homemade cookie!

Then out of a corner arose such a clatter, 

Andy jumped up to see what was the matter, 

The elf pets were getting ready for Santa to show,

And, in their excitement, had run into the tree taking down a garland and a bow!

Andy’s eyes twinkled, he laughed and then said, 

“My dear elf pet friends, I think I hear hooves and a sled!”

Little Rudolph, Mrs. Snowfox, and Bernard turned around, 

Waiting for Santa to come down the magic-made chimney with a dash and a bound…


While our scout elf Andy and the elf pets prepare for Santa’s arrival tonight, I got Andy’s okay to write this holly jolly post and tell you a bit more about him.


Meet Andy. Scout Elf Extraordinaire.


Throughout the year, Andy looks like a regular Elf on the Shelf doll, but Santa’s magic brings him back to life on December 1st. That’s when he brings Indy the Santa-Count-Down-Calendars. Andy’s magic stays until January 2nd (Elf rule is that he can stay until December 24, but he always asks for a Santa-extension, and Santa always grants him to stay for New Year’s Eve). In the days that follow, Andy leaves lots of letters in Indy’s Nutcracker mailbox and adds a merry messy note to our mornings with his elvish shenanigans.



Andy Mail!


One of my favorite letters this year was the one about The Elffice. It’s Andy’s favorite elf-tv series. For those who love The Office and Dwight K. Schrute as much as Indy does, you might love the Elffice and Doughy Schleigberry (and his alter ego, RecyCLAUS) too! The shenanigan that went with this letter? Markus found his stapler in a big bowl with jello!


Pranked by Andy and Doughy Schleighberry!


Hi Indy!


I heard that your wondered what my faaaaavvvooorite elf-tv- series is, and it is The Elffice! It’s about several elves who work for a wrapping paper company. It is sooooo funny! Alabaster Snowball is the branch manager, and Doughy Schleighberry is his assistant. Doughy is my favorite character! He works in sales and always tries to do everything right according to what he thinks is right. He likes Reindeers, Rooftops, and Ribbonstar Galaxy (a movie about elf wars in space).


Pepper Minstix is the receptionist, and she falls in love with Jingle Hollyberries. Jingle works in sales and always tries to prank Doughy! This makes Doughy really angry, and then he screams, “Alllabaaaaaasterrrrrrrr!” because he immediately wants to tell the boss that there is something very wrong.


There are three accountants: Oswald Merrybottom, Kyle Jollybum, and Pixie Tightbuttons. Pixie is obsessed with arctic foxes, and she is also the leader of the Christmas Party Committee.


There are some other sales people: Zippy Snickerdoodle and Pipsie Cookiecourt. They really like to eat a lot, and Zippy never pays attention.


And there is Frosty Twinkletoes. She works in customer service and wants to marry Chippy Sugarsocks. Chippy doesn’t really like her.


There is one elf whose job is a mystery. Even to himself! His name is Cocobee Brighton. He might be a criminal.


And the elf Alabaster hates most is Toffee Flakefingers. He works in E.R.: Elf Resources.


I wish we could watch it together! 


Do you think you can find me today?


Don’t forget to open the doors on your Santa- Count-Down-Calendars!


Your Best Elf Friend,




Andy has a passport and can travel with us when we travel during the Holidays. Last year, we all traveled to London. Elf travel is serious business. Luckily, Andy’s passport got stamped at Vienna airport (after it was carefully checked twice! Santa would approve). UK border control was a bit more strict and asked Indy what Andy’s nationality was (Indy’s answer: North-Polish), and how long Andy planned to stay. In the end his passport got stamped here too.


Elf Travel Memories #tbt


This year, travel was not possible, so we made it cozy at home!


I wrote down some questions for Andy on a note, and he happily wrote me back his answers.


P: How old are you? 


A: I am 308 years old. It’s pre-teens in elf years. 


P: What’s your fondest memory with us?


A: Hmmm, I really liked traveling with you to London! You carried me in your handbag, and I could peek out. I like to human-watch. Ow, and, that time I taped myself to the door and nobody could get through anymore, and when I let it snow inside, and when I decorated the tree with toilet paper, and that morning when Markus woke up and noticed that he was dressed in a Christmas tree costume! I did that.


P: Where do you live? 


A: I live on the North Pole, in Clausville. I live in the Elf Club House with my elf-room-mates. We have a pet reindeer. His name is Charlie.  


P: What is your favorite food and drink?


A: Waffles and hot chocolate milk. The Elf Club House has a magic waffle machine and a magic hot chocolate maker. They never run out of sugar and spice. I also like sugarplum-corn. It’s like popcorn, but better.


Elf-reos (mini oreos) and sugarplum corn, made by Andy. He’s an Elf of many talents.


P: What do the Holidays mean to you?


A: Visiting you guys, and spreading joy and happy thoughts!


It has been a challenging year for many people around the world. More than ever, my Holiday season has been sprinkled with thankfulness for my family’s health, happiness, and togetherness. If I had one Christmas wish, it would be to make 2021 a merry & magical year for all. Markus, Indy, and I will definitely do our best to add a positive note to your everyday with Frederick & Sophie! 


From my family (including Andy) to yours, may your Holidays be filled with wonder, wellness, and warmth.


Top Illustration: Maya E Shakur for FREDERICK & SOPHIE / Illustration Styling: Priscilla Obermeier