13 Dec $h*t, I Forgot to Move the Elf!
By: Stefanie Castro, RN, BSN
Oh the holidays, what joy they bring. Presents, cards, holiday parties, ugly sweaters, Starbucks cups full of warmth and cheer, and…the ELF ON THE SHELF! That elf! For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about (save yourself!), this is a stuffed elf figure considered to be Santa’s “scout” to watch whether children are naughty or nice. The “fun” part for parents is that the elf magically hides in a new spot in the house each night. On Thanksgiving night, when I have to bring out and dust off those elves (oh yes, because I have 2 children, there are 2 elves), there’s a part of me that cringes knowing I’ll spend an entire month trying to find new ways to be creative with their placement and mischief. There are even endless lists of inspiration on Pinterest dedicated to this very task. I truly have a love/hate relationship with those little red-clothed wonderments that come into my home during the holidays. The older my kids get the more I cling to the magic of those elves, because I know my kids won’t believe in them forever! At some point they will realize that mom tapes the little elf bodies to the window and the places they move around the house seem to conveniently be spots mom can easily reach (which isn’t high).
Recently, I attended a holiday party and a big topic of conversation among moms wasn’t what toy their kids would be opening on Christmas Day or if they got all their holiday shopping done: it was about how forgetting to move the elves has nearly caused heart attacks. The sad part was, the next day I popped up out of my own bed so fast, my heart racing, breaking into a full-blown sweat, because I HAD FORGOTTEN TO MOVE THE ELVES! I felt more nervous about getting caught in this act than giving birth to my first child! I tiptoed down the stairs, my heart pounding through my chest! It was ridiculous. All for these darn little elves! The lengths we go through to do frivolous things for our kids. And I’ll admit, when my parents come over, I am dead serious when I remind them: DON’T TOUCH THE ELVES! This is no joke! The breakdowns I’d have in this house (part of the story is if you touch the elf, its magic is gone) would make it the day I call a therapist—because my kids would need professional help! And in the process, my parents stare back at me like I’m some crazy person who needs therapy of my own to prove my sanity to society. Clearly, I will go through great lengths, even if it kills me, to keep the whole thing magical. The amazement in my kids’ eyes when they wake up makes it worth it.
But let’s be honest, too…we use these elves to our advantage just as much as our kids find merriment looking for them. How many times have you used that elf to bribe your kids: “Now kids, if you don’t listen to Mommy, look who’s listening” as I point towards my two Elves, Skippy and Sophie, staring right at them. As far as my kids are concerned, those elves have a direct connection to Santa Claus. I smirk because finally these little Target purchases are working for ME! It’s like the toys are magical, silent drill sergeants, making my kids move faster than they ever have! Now that feels good: to see my words being listened to for at least one month out of the year. That right there feels like a Christmas present I’m gifting myself.
As much fulfillment as I get in those moments when the elves are used to my advantage, I’m constantly hearing my kids speak to each other about the elves: “Where do you think they’ll be tomorrow? Maybe hanging off the ceiling? Maybe they’ll wear some crazy outfits? Maybe they’ll bring us something fun!” Right then, I can feel the beads of sweat re-appearing. That’s when it dawns on me; I’ve possibly taken this elf thing too far. Damn Pinterest…always peaking my curiosity. Pushing me to that “Pinterest-Level Mom” status! Ugh! When family members are over, I get them involved. It feels like a night off as I hand over those little elves for someone else to figure out. I will say, I have done some pretty crazy things with these elves: zip-lining, bringing Advent calendars for the kids on December 1st, magically transforming an egg to a Kinder Egg surprise. I mean, my Elf game is so strong, I’ve even learned how to properly use my left hand to write the notes to my kids so they can’t recognize the writing. As if my kids are going to get some sort of handwriting expert into my home by day’s end if they get suspicious. I feel like I’m in Mission Impossible and completing the biggest scam ever tried on my children.
My days of Elf on the Shelf are numbered. And it’ll continue to be a love/hate relationship. For those of you who don’t have kids yet or just started your relationship with Elf on the Shelf, and constantly tell people how much “fun” it is…come to me on year 6 and then we’ll talk! Year after year I try to be creative, because I have a son who has the memory of an elephant. He can literally recall every single spot these little creatures have sat in my house. Each December 26th I’m that crazy mom at Target loading up her cart with as many half-priced Elf on the Shelf accessories as can fit. If you see me at the store, feel free to wave. This year will be no different. Outfits, additional characters, props—all for Skippy and Sophie. Afterwards, I’ll come home, tuck them safely in the closet, and think to myself that at some point they’ll be put away and never reopened again. And I’ll actually miss it.
Follow all the mischief these elves get in to during the holiday season on Instagram @crazyelfmom
 A chocolate candy the size and shape of an egg, that holds a surprise toy inside.
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