“Get an elf!” They said. “It will be fun!” They said.
I’ll be honest. By now, I thought we would be rid of the Elf on the Shelf tradition in our home. It’s been six long years. I didn’t expect our relationship to last this long. Yes, we started off strong. At first, it was magical. Fun. Adorable. Everything was fresh and new. So many adventures ahead, so many opportunities for joy and mischief. I admit that in the beginning, I was all in.
But by season three, I was done. I felt burned out, emotionally, mentally and physically. I simply ran out ideas. Maybe I’m lame, but there are only so many scenarios I can create. I’m a busy mom, which means I’m tired and overwhelmed. I don’t have the mental capacity for this game anymore!
Like lots of moms, I initially turned to Pinterest for inspiration when I lost both creativity and motivation. Have you seen that crap? Hats off to the moms that can pull these antics off on a nightly basis. But come on! Is this for real? I don’t have the time nor the brainpower to stage elaborate scenes. If being a lazy Elf on the Shelf mom is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. It’s too much work.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that on any given day, I’m just over here trying my best to come up with a dinner that everyone will eat and keep up with the laundry. That’s what I consider a big win; not creating the most Pinterest-worthy Elf Escapades.
I never had nor will possess that level of free time, commitment, or enthusiasm for the elf. Honestly, I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought this might be the year of the breakup. I thought, (okay, I hoped,) this might be the year we got to say goodbye.
Nope. No such luck.
Here we are, six years later, still trying creating elf mischief after my daughter falls asleep. And she loves them. Oh, you noticed that? “Them?” Nice catch. That’s correct. Plural elves. We have five.
Go big or go home. That’s how we roll.
Yes. I’m an idiot. No. I don’t know what I was thinking by allowing them to multiply like Gremlins.
Long story short, we lost the first elf. Or, so we thought. As we were approaching season two, we couldn’t find him anywhere. My daughter anxiously anticipated his arrival, which upped my anxiety. He was still missing as of Thanksgiving evening. So, reluctantly and against my deepest core beliefs, I braved the local Super Target and stood in the longest line I’ve ever seen. It was a total nightmare and it’s possible I have not completely healed from the trauma.
But I didn’t falter. I stood in the line and suffered miserably because of ALL OF THE PEOPLE until I could check out. I mean, he simply HAD to show up the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise, CHRISTMAS WOULD BE RUINED! And I would have to add yet another incident to my growing list of mom-fails.
Since it was the exact same elf that as Number One, my daughter never knew he was an impostor. That is, until the day she found Number 1 in a closet. So that’s how we went from one to two.
The next year, the same thing happened. We couldn’t find EITHER of them. Yes, this is my life. But this time I didn’t mess around. I ordered another one straight away from Amazon. This is how much of my life goes, by the way, losing things, ordering replacements, then finding the original.
And of course, we eventually did uncover Number One and Number Two. By that time, she had caught the elf fever and began relentlessly asking for a few girl elves. The boys needed a few sisters and I’ve always wanted a big family.
Not really about the big family part. The truth is that my daughter is a strategic negotiator, and don’t forget, I’m also tired.
That’s how we ended up with five. Yes, I do realize this is an odd thing, having multiple elves. We don’t even play by the rules anymore. We touch the elves and they don’t lose their magic. They hang around long after New Year’s Day. They sit on a shelf or wherever they damn well please. They move around but don’t do many tricks. Mostly they just move around to random spots. They’re kind of like relatives that never leave.
But I’ll tell you this; as annoying as it is to wake up in a panic and realize the elves didn’t move because I forgot again, I wouldn’t change a thing. (Well, I might reduce the number of elves, but that’s probably it.)
Here’s why. I’m pretty sure my daughter is onto the whole scam, yet we all play along. We continue to play along because it brings her joy. She still believes in Christmas Magic. She’s almost ten and that might seem too old for this silliness, but I can’t forget that she’s going to grow up soon enough. Time is flying by, and soon she won’t want anything to do with elves and maybe not even much to do with her dad and me.
I’m going to let her be a kid as long as I can. In fact, I encourage it. I’m not talking about coddling her and letting her slide on responsibilities and consequences. I’m talking about letting her live in her joy and imagination and be carefree before the world starts telling her she must do certain things and act a certain way in order to belong and fit in.
I think too often, we force kids to grow up too quickly. We want them to shut down their playful spirit and turn them into little adults before they are ready. Somewhere along the way, they get the message that fun and creativity aren’t important. But they are. The really are.
So that’s why I (sometimes grudgingly, sometimes reluctantly) go along with the Elf on the Shelf antics. I know that someday, she’s going to look back and remember these days with fondness. I know that someday I will look back with a sentimental longing, and I will wish for maybe just one more Christmas with the elves.