There’s a bit of a hullaballoo about the Elf on a Shelf thing. And Elf drama, if you will.
Basically, here’s the gist of how the Elf on a Shelf thing works for any of you who don’t have school-aged children:
- Elf comes from the North Pole on or around December 1st. (The day-after-Thanksgiving elves are over-achievers and burn out before Christmas.)
- If it’s the elf’s first time in the home, the child(ren)
argue intenselycreatively name the elf. (Our elf is “Sparkelepaint.” She was named “Sparkle” by then-4-year-old Lila and “Paint” by then two-year-old Vivienne.)
- Each night, the elf goes back to the North Pole to give Santa a report on the children’s behavior during crunch time (aka, the December days leading up to Christmas Eve).
- Elf then comes BACK to the house every day and sits on a different “shelf” each morning to demonstrate to the children that the elf a.) did leave their home and b.) did go see Santa.
Basically, this is accountability on an elementary level.
We’re teaching our kids that a mitten-covered, arguably creepy, yet joyful little elf is watching them and reporting on their comings and goings. Essentially, big brother in your safest place, your home.
And we celebrate this.
IMPORTANT FACTOID: The child(ren) cannot touch the elf for fear of magic-loss. (Our elf fell off the Christmas tree a couple of years ago and we had to use kitchen tongs to resituate her since we didn’t want to risk touching her and losing her magic.)
Some camps think the elf is nothing short of bribery, home invasion and a waste of time. ANOTHER thing to do.
Some camps (the one I’m in) are fine with all of this*.
*I have been proudly bribing my children since they started potty-training. I look at it less like “bribery” and more like a demonstration of the world economy.
Now, due in large part to pinterest and social media, the elf no longer just “sits” on a shelf.
The elf partakes in activities.
The elf wears clothes.
The elf writes notes.
THIS can be exhausting for parents.
The first couple of nights, it’s fun! “HA! Look at our cute elf.”
Then, real life sets in and sometimes parents forget to move the elf. (We’re human.)
I know a few parents who have sent their elf “to go visit their cousins” so they didn’t have to remember to move the elf for a few days.
I have a close friend whose elf tragically “broke his leg” and couldn’t move. (10k creativity points on that one.)
In our house, the reappearance of our elf on December 1st, and her subsequent morning hijinx, are something that keep.my.girls.laughing.
They laugh together. (And aren’t arguing.)
They smile together. (And aren’t arguing.)
They feel like they have an ally. (And they aren’t arguing.)
They write to Sparklepaint.
They feel the magic and you know what? I’m ok with it.
I want to remember the sound of my bedroom doorknob slowly creaking open and a little face showing up next to my bed asking me, “DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT SPARKLEPAINT DID LAST NIGHT???”
Yes. I do. I will want to know forever what she did.
Unfortunately, there’s a timeline for elves.
They return up north on Christmas Eve and for some people, this is both a relief (high-five parents?) and for others, it’s treacherously sad.
My girls fall into the latter category.
There was more than one conversation yesterday regarding Sparklepaint’s long-term visitation plan. “How old will we be when she doesn’t come to our home anymore?”
My answer, “I don’t know. Ask her.”
So, Lila did.
“¿At wat [what] age are you going to leave me and vivi?
She went on to ask, “Can you fill it [the mini christmas bulb] up with sparkels? Thank you.”
And then finally, “I am going to miss you.”
This is what Sparklepaint said in response.
Our elf is harmless.
She brings joy and speaks truth.
And if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that this time, this precious time goes by way too quickly.
…the ache in the girls’ hearts about Sparklepaint returning to the North Pole will soon enough be replaced with other aches and real-life stuff.
Until then, I’ll take magic and sparkles and giggles and joy.
Merry, merry Christmas dear friends.
And may your elves have safe travels back to the North Pole.
Merry, Merry Christmas!