The Elf on the Shelf is my least favorite Christmas tradition. I will forever think horrible thoughts of the family who introduced my children to the insanity of the elf. I’m not even sure why my children have such high hopes for this mysterious, ever-watchful, spying little creature.
I guess it could be that their hopes for the tooth fairy have fallen short. The tooth fairy frequently drops their tooth money on the floor (way under the bed where only Mom can reach it), or she can’t make it because their teenage brother stays up too late and she can’t sneak in the house.
So, my kids are desperate for a fairy (even if he’s an elf) to bring pixie dust trails of magic to their home. But, alas, the elf is not much better than that silly tooth fairy.
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The Morning Panic
Every morning I wake from a dead sleep panicked to remember if the elf has magically transported from the North Pole to another mundane position in our home. The sweat drips from my brow as I stealthily make my way through the house – in the dark – to search for the insidious little creature. I have become Ninja-like in my reflexes as I peer up the stairs to confirm all children are asleep in their beds while avoiding shoes left in the middle of the floor.
Buddy (our magical Christmas elf) isn’t terribly original in his hiding. In fact, some might say he just pops in wherever he lands and stays put for the remainder of the day. Sometimes that’s in the middle of the Christmas tree. Sometimes, it’s scrunched between knick-knacks on the counter. Rarely, is he found on an actual shelf.
The trauma of having an Elf on the Shelf is contained to just adults. Children love the idea of a tiny red spy lurking in their home ready to narc on them to the big guy at the North Pole.
Adults? Not so much. Adults can not understand the complexities of the magical elf and are often distressed with nagging questions.
- What happens if he falls off his perch on the 4-foot toy soldier? Does he remain face-down on the floor the rest of the day or can he magically pop back up when everyone leaves the room?
- Does the elf actually lose his magic and turn into a stuffed toy if a child touches him or can he magically be cured with ground cinnamon and peppermint sticks?
- What consequences are there for dogs who mistake the elf for their favorite chew toy and have to be chased around the house and have “the Elf” forcibly removed from their mouths?
- Can the elf choose to appear on the same shelf day after day? Is the elf possibly partial to one spot and would like to make it his favorite?
These are questions that keep adults up at night.
These are questions adults ponder when they are witnessing where the elf has chosen to place himself each and every morning.
In some houses, the elf is mischievous. Children wake to find a mini marshmallow fight between the elf and the Barbies. In others, the elf is helpful and leaves children sweet reminders to brush their teeth. In our house, the elf is, well, boring. He never manages to do anything mischievous and is rarely helpful. In fact, some would say he is complacent in his job duties. This year he was even late to our house by an entire week. But, he quickly returned to his role of ever-watchful North Pole spy.
A Week in the Life of Buddy, Our Christmas Elf
Buddy has what, I will assume, is a tenured position. I feel that he has job security and is not required to perform such trivial job duties such as making snow angels in powdered sugar or setting up counter-top barbecues with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle dolls. His life is pretty serene, as is witnessed by a week in the life of Buddy.
Morning 1: The smell of winter was in the air. The Christmas lights twinkled and the magic of Christmas was crackling in the fireplace. The girls awoke to Buddy reading The Elf on the Shelf book to Fred (our Life of Fred doll). It set up expectations that were hardly fulfilled on Morning 2.
Morning 2: “Mom, Why is Buddy sitting on pasta?” Umm, because he loves Italy, of course.
Morning 3: “Mom, Buddy looks like he’s trying to get into the bubble gum machine!” Yeah, that’s what he’s doing.
Early Morning 4: “Mom, we’ve looked all over, and we can’t find Buddy.” Yeah well, if you’d stop chasing me through the house yelling “Where’s Buddy?” maybe you’d find him and No, I have nothing stuffed up my shirt.
Morning 5: It was a late night grading papers. Buddy seemed content to watch me from an actual shelf.
Morning 6: Buddy’s spot is a bit inappropriate, in hindsight. Most of the family chose to avoid using the hall bathroom on this day.
Morning 7: Well, it’s better than sitting on a toilet.
Even though the Elf on the Shelf is my least favorite Christmas tradition, it is a tradition that still lives at our house. I won’t be able to enjoy the magic of Christmas through young, innocent eyes much longer. The kids are growing, and their ideas of magic are growing with them. So, for now, Buddy and I will coexist… unless the dog decides otherwise.
What’s your least favorite Christmas tradition that is still celebrated in your home?