The last couple of mornings in our house have started something like this:
Little Brother (of course he's in our bed by 6:30am): Let's go see where he is!
Baby Girl (on my other side): Ok!
Me (urgent whisper to Man-of-the-house): Dmmt I frgt t mv it!
Me: I frgt t mv it!!
Me: Wo wang le! (translation: I forgot! -in Chinese)
Man: Wangle shenme? (translation: Forgot what?)
Me: IT! (because both kids know what E-L-F spells and I have no idea how it translates to Chinese and neither does he)
Man (finally catching on): Oh. OH. Wait kids, you can't go downstairs until you give dad a big hug and a kiss goodbye. No, that wasn't big enough, no, another one, BIGGER HUG...
...all while I careen down the stair case to move that damned elf from his last perch.
I'm not here to write about boycotting the evil genius of marketing and fable-making that brought this false tradition of lying to children and inspiring un-Christian faith in idols that undermines parental authority. There are plenty of posts on that, and you can find your angst elsewhere. We have an elf, and until the little ones stop wanting him around, he will probably keep showing up on December 1st.
We got our elf last year when the kids came home from kindergarten and preschool with stories of all their friends' elves, and the classroom elf, and asking why Santa wouldn't send an elf their way to see how good they were being, too. Then they figured out that you have to adopt them, at, say, Target (for a mere $29.95 adoption fee, what a steal for your OWN ELF!) And while I thought the elf was creepy, I remembered a similar elf from my own childhood, which sat on my tree looking creepy too, but clearly I turned out ok, so what was the harm in indulging this wish? Maybe I could locate the old elf, and then we'd have our own vintage elf, which surely would make up for any crass commercialism behind this whole elf on the shelf thing.
|Me and my elf, circa 1979|
I checked with my dad to see if he could dig up the elf in his storage - I hadn't seen it since the divorce in the mid-80s - and he looked among his things, but either too many years or too much storage had contrived to misplace this elf. (I haven't given up hope, since my dad never throws away anything of sentimental value, and it hailed from a factory in Hong Kong that he worked at in the early 60's, that made toys destined for US markets. One day I will go and personally dig through his garage myself. But I digress). No vintage elf. So we caved in to peer pressure, and
But I'm really not an ideal adoptive parent to anything this high maintenance. The kids' friends, their moms would scour Pinterest for ideas and set up little scenes of the elf drinking syrup in the fridge or taking mini marshmallow bubble baths or fishing for goldfish crackers. I am the kind of mom that on more occasions than I care to admit has woken up to a tearful child sobbing "She never came!" and has had to walk him back with a dollar tucked in my hand, saying "Are you sure you checked everywhere? Oh you checked inside the pillowcase too? Well maybe it fell, let's check in the frame of the bed, here under the mattress, oh look! Here it is!"
And Elf on the Shelf? It's like being the tooth fairy... for Twenty. Four. Days. In. A. Row.
Give it up, then, you say. A friend suggested having the dog eat it...and I bet he would. (Good dog). And the Man-of-the-house came up with the idea of hanging the elf by a noose outside of Primrose's house, and letting the kids come to their own conclusions. And possibly scarring them for life.
I don't quite have the heart to do it. How many more years do I have before logic robs them of their passport to fairyland? Besides, thoughts of the elf gets Little Brother out of his bed, happy, at 6:30am in this cold dark northern clime, a feat that so borders on the miraculous that I am willing to cut the elf some slack.
Which still doesn't solve the problem of my actually having to move it every night. Until, in the midst of griping, I suddenly came up with a solution. What if I gave myself an incentive to deal with the elf every evening? I have no use for cute Pinterest scenes, and besides, that just sets the stage for raising expectations to the point where mom has a breakdown, collapses among the bottles with the elf, and elf-shaming begins (you can look that one up for yourself, too).
But setting up tableaux of his untimely demise, playing with my camera and tripod, thinking up Godfather references, this would be fun, and I would remember to put the elf back in a new place after my evening entertainment, and the kids would never know the difference.
And so I give you:
I keep my sanity, the kids keep their fantasies, and the elf lives to see another day. Win-win-win.
*No elves were harmed in the making of this scene. I don't have $29.95 to throw away every night.