I will fully admit that I love Christmas, like a lot, it's the best time of year! But there is one 2000s era Christmas tradition I feel like I could live without, and one I wish I had never started. Its that tiny mischevious elf in a red outfit and a sly grin sent to scare your children into behaving. Yes, its that pesky Elf on the Shelf and I wish we had never met.
I will take most of the blame in our elf's adoption into our family. My first child was born eight days after Christmas. We were gifted our little helper the Christmas before he was born. For some reason, I was the one who opened that elf up, read the story and decided in my hormonal state it was a wonderful idea to let my child believe Santa had sent an elf from the North Pole to make sure he was good right before Christmas.
Heck, I even named the guy myself. However, he went forgotten due to a surprise new year arrival and my wonderful in-laws putting away all of the Christmas decorations before the three of us returned home from the hospital. You could've knocked me over with a feather when my husband asked me the following year where the Elf on the Shelf was to show our suddenly 11-month old son.
As I sometimes do, I found what we were looking for and the Elf on the Shelf tradition was born. We read the book and my son was still young enough, the elf kept the name I gave him.
So for those of you who don't have an elf (and what a good decision that was), here's how it works: Santa sends down what is called a scout elf after Thanksgiving to hide in the homes of families to keep an eye the children to see how they're behaving, good or bad.
Every night, the elf returns to the North Pole to report back (to Santa) your children's behavior. He returns to your home every morning before everyone wakes up and watches your child from a different part of the house. Every single day. And occasionally he gets into some shenanigans along the way.
The craziest part is that of your child for some reason touches the elf, he gets sent back forever. So every day as he watches, he watches from up high and out of reach of the kids. Elf on the Shelf comes with a cute book explaining his story and space where you can write his name and the date he was adopted into your family.
The elf goes back to the North Pole for the year on Christmas Eve returning next December. So, he is a spy from Santa sent to scare your children into behaving in order to still get their Christmas presents.
As the parents, you must ensure that your kids don't touch the elf. You must also move the elf to a new spot in your home every day. The spot must be out of reach and unique.
Sometimes you need to set your elf up in funny situations. Think, getting into the junk drawer or spilling milk. So this requires planning and effort. I think you see where I'm going with this.
The hardest part is keeping up this story for years and somehow finding new and unique spaces for your elf to hide in your below average-sized house. It's truly exhausting every December to keep up with.
I cannot begin to count how many times I've forgotten to move my elf. As a result, I have made up so many stories about why the elf didn't move. "He's sick and resting." "He was so comfy he went right back to the same spot." "What do you mean? The elf was on the bookcase yesterday."
I'm telling you, Santa's little helper isn't a help to you. Then just wait, when you think it can't get any more annoying, your kid gets older and starts asking more questions, "Where does he live?" "Why can't he talk to me?" "When does he move?" "Did he see me do that?" I can't help but make up all of these answers to keep the magic alive.
Have you been to Target lately? Of course, you have. Elf on the Shelf has a whole line now. You can buy different outfits for your elf (including a mermaid tail and a coat) and an accompanying North Pole reindeer. Get this? Your kids can cuddle the reindeer.
The elf himself has more books and clothes with his punchable face on it. You may even find a female elf and elves with different skin colors. Guess who wants all this stuff? My kids. And guess who has to hear their whining when I say no? Me.
I get Elf on the Shelf, I really do, and maybe I took it too far, but even at a minimal level, it adds more work to an already busy holiday season. Maybe it just isn't for me. So why do I do it? I am too far in. There's no going back. My kids love it and my oldest talks about him and has been asking.
He's only six and I won't be the one to ruin it all for him. So until it's time to permanently put him away, I'll move my elf every day (well maybe) and lie about his life and whereabouts.
But if I could do it again, the red little elf wouldn't be welcome in my home.