I really dislike the Elf on the Shelf.
I don’t know why, but I find this mischievously smiling elf to be super-annoying. For the last few years, my Facebook feed have been filled up with all sorts of pictures of this elf visiting houses. Every day, he is doing something different and I get to know about it—whether I want to know or not.
I don’t want to sound cynical here, but I don’t really care that your elf, named “Elf,” undecorated the Christmas tree and moved it across the living room, or unrolled 10 rolls of toilet paper to make a snow village, or wrote a magical message in colored soap all over the bathroom mirror, or poops out toothpaste, or anything else he does.
Seriously, maybe I am just lazy, but planning out those types of scenarios, taking the time to actually make it look like he is doing this type of mischief, then cleaning up after this little fiend—well, that’s just way too involved for me. I mean, I already have three kids that I have to clean up after. Why would I want to give myself more work?
I was doing pretty good keeping this secret from the kids too. Until one day my oldest son heard other kids at school talking about an elf visiting their homes—and all the places he had been hiding and the stuff he’d been doing.
Darn it, I was busted. Now I had to make an excuse for why we didn’t have one. So I told the kids that it sounds like the elf gets into mischief and we don’t want an elf coming to our house and making messes for us to clean up, do we? Lucky for me, one of the moms volunteering at school that day told my son that he must have been good because well-behaved kids don’t get elf visits.
Whew! I figured I was off the hook for good now.
Then, last year, this wretched little elf landed at their cousins’ house. Now, I felt obligated to get them one, so I did, at the end of the season last year….and he made his grand entrance this year the day after Thanksgiving. I must say, the looks on their faces was worth it when they came downstairs in the morning to find that an elf had finally visited our home! Their eyes were bright with excitement. My six-year-old looked at me and confidently proclaimed, “Oh yeah… Santa’s real.”
However, this elf is not going to make messes for me to clean up—if he does, I will for sure send him back to the North Pole early. Maybe he’ll bring some Christmas treats. Maybe he’ll even leave some messages about the true meaning of Chrismas—the birth of Jesus, the gift of giving, and helping others in need. He might even bring the kids Polar Express Tickets… yes, I know, I am going from despising this elf to making him a Christmas hero…
It wasn’t just out of obligation that I got one though. Each year, since my oldest son started school, I have seen the innocence fade. From proclamations about how Santa can get to everyone’s house in just one night to “the fifth graders said Santa isn’t real,” to the reasoned statement “it is impossible for Santa to visit every house and get in and out so quickly” and “Do you have separate wrapping paper that is for Santa gifts?” When he asks me if Santa is real, I avoid answering the question directly. “He leaves you presents, doesn’t he?” I usually remind him.
This year may be the last year to keep the magic alive. It may be the only year left that all three of my kids will immediately obey at the mere mention of the threat of getting on the naughty list. It may be the last year that they insist on leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, and even carrots for the reindeer. It may be the last year that they write letters to Santa actually believing they make it to the North Pole. It makes me sad that it may be the last year that they will get up at the crack of dawn (although that is no earlier than usual around here!) and run downstairs to see what Santa left and then jump up and down in excitement.
I am just not ready to give that up. I know as they find out, my older sons will play along for their little brother, but it won’t be the same. So if getting a silly elf can keep the wonder and amazement going and allows my boys to be “little” for one more year, then count me in.
I have officially crossed over to a place I never thought I’d go… Elf on the Shelf land.