The elf of the shelf. A lot of people love it and a lot of people love to hate it. An elf that’s full of magic sent from the North Pole to keep an eye on children and let Santa know if they’ve been naughty or nice. Often causing a commotion in their mischievous ways. They can’t be touched or they’ll lose their magic. A sprinkle of cinnamon and left overnight and their magic will recharge. Only the craziest of craziest of parents would take on such a task around Christmas. Planning every mischievous moment. Staying up late to move the elf for an entire month.
I always wanted to start an elf on the shelf Christmas tradition, but I knew I didn’t have it in me. Staying up late to move an elf and set up whatever the damn thing was going to be doing. Planing an entire month’s worth of things for it to do. Yeah not something I was ready to do, but last year that all changed. Thanks to my mom, our elf Snowflake arrived. The moment my daughter saw it, deemed it a her and named it Snowflake, I knew it was game over for me. She was too excited for me to not participate. I couldn’t let my little girl down. And so it began…
I quickly went to work gathering ideas and buying supplies. I knew I had to live up to whatever expectations my daughter had every night when she would say, ‘I wonder what Snowflake will do tonight.’ Snowflakes time with us wasn’t super mischievous, afterall she was suppose to make sure the children were good. How could she be naughty? She made new friends, tp’ed the Christmas tree and later that day my daughters room. She came in like a wrecking ball, hung underwear on the tree, and wrapped everything in her lunchbox. I even made Snowflake a library to keep my daughter motivated to read. My son wasn’t super into it, he was 12 afterall, but thank God for him. On nights when I couldn’t hack it and fell asleep before setting everything up, he’d improvise and move her in the morning before my daughter could see.
For us the elf on the shelf isn’t about us, it’s about the children. The excitement on their face when they see what Snowflake got into. The excitement to see what happens the next day. The way they tell their friends about their elf. I can’t deny them that. I understand why people hate it though. All the planning. All the expectations. All the late nights. It’s definitely not for everyone. After last year I debated on whether I’d even keep it going this year. But when I opened the nox I stored her in, there laying with her was the note my daughter wrote:
I wish you never had to go, but you have to go. I wish you could stay, but you can’t. I will miss you. I love you. Please take this note to remember me. If you write me a note back I will remember you forever.
She cried. She was so sad and so disappointed that Snowflake had to leave and go back to the North Pole. I couldn’t deny her that happiness and joy Snowflake brings. And so it begins again…
We are an elf on the shelf house. It’s not always my favorite. Sometimes I do forget to move the elf or fall asleep before I can move the elf. I can’t deny my daughter the happiness it brings her. My son is too old for it and I wish I’d started sooner. Children grow up too fast and I only have a few (maybe) years left of my daughter believing in a magical elf. So for now, I’ll spend my Decembers moving her elf and causing mayhem because nothing makes me happier than making her happy.