Every year, Christmas seems to sneak up on me a little faster. I never seem to have enough time to get it all done. I love that my kids believe in Santa and all the magic of Christmas ~ it’s the traditions that make the holiday so special. Thanksgiving falling so late this year only cramped the schedule a little more. And this year, my husband is home…but he is quite the Grinch around the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still do most of the Christmas shopping and probably a decent chunk of the baking, but when it comes to decorating, Christmas music, seeing the lights, etc, he wants no part. It’s up to me to make Christmas magical for our three boys, ages 2, 4, and 9. The Elf on the Shelf became one of those traditions back in 2009.
My oldest was only 5 at the time and my middle child was an infant. My husband was deployed. It was a rough Christmas season for me. I didn’t even want to put up a tree (we weren’t staying home for Christmas that year). But I did decorate, for the kids, if nothing else. My aunt sent us The Elf on a Shelf as a gift for the kids. I had never even heard of it before. But my then 5yo was enchanted. Our otherwise depressing Christmas season had become magical again, despite Daddy being gone and Mommy being stretched too thin trying to keep up with everything by herself and still working full-time. So we dove in feet-first. In 2009, there was no Pinterest. The Elf on the Shelf just moved around the house, like the storybook said. My son loved looking for him every morning. When we went to Grandma’s house, the elf came along. Our elf has always kept it simple. He likes to stay up high, thus reducing the risk of being touched and having his magic stolen. He particularly likes hiding in the Christmas tree and anything related to the North Pole – Santa, reindeer, etc. We occasionally finding him posing as a flower in the Christmas cactus. He’s even jumped into the car a time or two, when he knew a trip to see Santa was on the agenda. But he’s not running around the house creating messes and cavorting with Barbie. He has never infiltrated the pantry and spilled flour all over the kitchen. Let’s face it – this tired mama of three boys has enough messes to clean up without cleaning up after that pesky elf, too. I have enough to do redecorating the tree on a daily basis after the two little ones have found some shiny bauble they couldn’t resist! (Not to worry, anything remotely fragile is above the 4 foot mark!)
The last few years, The Elf on the Shelf has gone “viral.” What started off as a simple Christmas story and stuffed toy that moves around has gone haywire. Elves are everywhere, causing trouble – some even R-rated or worse. To top it off, those of us who merely move the elf have been tagged as “lazy” in a number of blogs. Sure, some of that stuff is pretty cute, but as the meme says “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” If I left the elf where the kids could actually reach him, there’s no way they’d leave him alone. My 9yo and 4yo understand the rules, but my 2yo doesn’t yet (and this is the first year it’s really “clicked” with my 4yo). So he still just moves from place to place, although he does find a dry erase marker every now and then to leave messages for the kids (today we found him hugging a Santa figurine with a thought bubble on the mirror above the elf saying, “I <3 Santa”). Occasionally he’ll find a place he likes so much, he stays there a few days (ahem, yes, Mom forgot. Again).
I’m pretty sure that my 9yo still believes in Santa and he still gets a big kick out of the elf. As long as my kids still believe, I will keep the magic alive for them. Part of me can’t wait for the day when they are all old enough to know better and that I won’t have to sneak around to keep the season that much more enchanting for them, but the other part of me aches for them to stay little forever. There is so little magic and so few real surprises left in this world. If keeping Santa and the Easter Bunny real for them makes the world a happier place, then I, for one, am all for it. Plus, it gives them something to look forward to when Dad is deployed.
However, if you have the time and the energy to make your Elf a little more rambunctious, there are plenty of ideas out there. We even have a few here on MyMilitaryLife.com. Check out http://mymilitarylife.com/2012/12/14/the-great-elf-adventures-2012/ or our Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/mymilitarylife/elf-on-the-shelf-get-inspired/.
Blogger Tori told me she hasn’t seen as many posts from friends this year on Elf antics. Perhaps there is an epidemic of Elfin Flu this year? Or maybe it’s just parent burn-out.
What is your elf up to this year? Has the Elf on the Shelf gone too far? Does anyone else find the animated TV special demented? Share your thoughts in the comments!