The Magic of the Elf?

What could be more ridiculous than going shopping on Black Friday?

I know… ridiculous.

However, there was one item on sale that morning that I just had to have, so I decided to brave the crowds bright and early that morning. In order to make my time worthwhile, I arranged to meet up with my Mother-in-Law just after the “big purchase” and cross a few other things off of my Christmas to-do list.

Which eventually took me to the aisles of Target.
Which in turn led me to the one thing that can be more ridiculous than Black Friday shopping …

The Elf.

OK. Not just any elf. The Elf on the Shelf.

The Elf we DO NOT own.
The Elf I do not want to own.
(No matter how much my children beg.)

There I was, minding my own business, en route to a very important toy in the back of Target, when we passed “it” – strategically placed within an enormous end cap displayed in the book aisle (to better pass it off as educational maybe?) with the message:

“Have you ever wondered how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice?
The Elf on the Shelf® – A Christmas Tradition is the very special tool
that helps Santa know who to put on the Naughty and Nice list.”

Image taken straight from the online Elf on the Shelf Superstore itself.
(Because, you know… Santa needs to make money too, right?)

I didn’t look twice, but my Mother-and-law (who I don’t think fully grasped the entire concept of the Elf yet) stopped, pointed towards the end cap display and said, “There it IS! The Elf! Your daughter wants that SO badly. Maybe I should get it for her?”

I gave her the benefit of the doubt (since I don’t believe the Elf was around when she had small children) and responded by emphatically explaining that the Elf was not welcome in my house.

  • I’ve read all about stressed out “elfs” searching for new creative ways to mischievously move throughout their house.
  • I’ve seen good, solid people FREAK OUT after their “elf” forgot to move, desperate for a believable excuse to tell their children WHY.
  • I’ve listened to friend after friend after friend talk about this damn elf with some weird form of “loving contempt.”

No. Thank. You.
I don’t need another love-hate relationship.
I don’t need yet another thing to worry about over the month of December.
I do not need this elf.
(Even if it is a proven way to increase my odds of better behaved children.)

My mother-in-law quickly agreed (bless her heart – probably for fear of her own life and to keep the peace during our early morning shopping excursion).

  • My oldest daughter is nearly 10 (she doesn’t need another thing to believe in)
  • My middle is son is 6 (we’ve managed somewhat successfully this far without the Elf)
  • My youngest is 2 (I’m not certain he even quite gets Santa yet…)

I just don’t see the point.
No! (I silently say to myself) I am convinced beyond a doubt that the Elf is definitely not for my house.

And onward we went with our sorta fun ridiculous Black Friday shopping endeavor – not once thinking again of Mr. Elf who will never grace the presence of any of my shelves…


Flash forward to one week later, during the early afternoon of December 1st.

Nap was running late for my toddler. It was a gorgeous 60° F day outside (quite unusual of December 1st in Ohio). The sun was shining and the entire slew of neighborhood kids (including my own toddler) were outside playing in the big “toddler playpen” that is my backyard when I hesitantly called out to my 2-year-old, “Time to come in!”

Immediately my toddler recognized the dreaded nap time call, causing him to quickly turn the opposite direction screaming and running (A normal age appropriate nap-time reaction, right?)

I contemplated just skipping his nap, he had been playing SO well with all the big kids. However, we were planning on traveling downtown to visit Santa that evening for the 1st time of the season and I really wanted my toddler to be rested for Santa (and the line we would have to wait in for our visit).

I wondered momentarily if my soon-to-be three-year-old even understood who Santa was? Well, there is one way to find that out…

Being the well versed, seasoned mom that I am, I stepped out the back door and explain to my toddler:

“Honey, we need to take a nap so that we can see Santa tonight.”

Dead in his tracks.

My toddler turned (quicker than one can say “Elf-on-the-Shelf”)
and a miracle happened.

My nearly three-year-old clearly repeats, “Santa…? Santa! Nap time, Santa!” and happily walks through the door, up the stairs, climbs into bed, throws the covers on – almost immediately falling asleep.

Going to SleepOf course I had to snap a photo of the unbelievable moment!

And for the 1st time ever, I truly understood the concept of the Elf and why a parent might appreciate its effect. Because for the 1st time ever – my toddler raced upstairs to go to sleep (and probably dream of Santa) withOUT a tear.

I’m still not getting that Elf.

I think.

Oh, heck. Who needs the Elf! I have Santa!

Meeting SantaMeeting Santa and Mrs. Clause that night.

Leave a comment: Do you use the Elf on the Shelf? Love it or Hate it. Convince me.

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17 Responses to The Magic of the Elf?

  1. Dawn says:

    We have the Elf. We got it as a gift. We did it 2 years ago and our oldest wasn’t quite big enough to grasp it or really care. Last year I couldn’t find it and he never asked. This year… it has been a HUGE hit. I don’t have the time or energy to get really creative and was really relieved when I did try (by drawing on glass frames with a dry erase marker) that he thought the Elf must be mean to do that… so I’ve gone back to just moving him around at night. Every morning the first thing our oldest does is look around the house to try and find him. It’s really cute, sweet and not time intensive at all… less than 5 minutes… and the look on his face every morning as he finds him is priceless.

    • Kate F. says:

      It so nice to hear of a positive experience with the Elf Dawn. That is SO funny that your son thought the Elf must be “mean” if he drew on the glass frame 🙂 Ha! Ha! How sweet!

  2. Tatum says:

    The first time I heard about the Elf on the Shelf was late last year. I figured we had missed our window since our daughter is now 6 but I broke down and got one this year. I admit I was nervous about the added responsibility of remembering to move her every night and coming up with “creative and/or mischevious” ideas, but the look on her face that first morning was PRICELESS! She couldn’t stop talking about it and told anyone and everyone who would listen.

    I admit there are times I forget and race out of bed to move it before she gets up and so far I haven’t been as “creative or mischievous” as I’d like but I love the excitement it brings her is worth the extra stress 🙂

    • Kate F. says:

      I am SO WORRIED the “elf” would fall asleep and forget to move… That’s my biggest worry! What to do if we have a “forgetful elf,” because I am fairly certain that my kids will make the Santa’s nice list each year 🙂

  3. Kate L. says:

    We have Christopher Pop-in-kins ( Made in Ohio, a lot less creepy-looking than the Elf on the Shelf, I think. He doesn’t get into trouble or anything elaborate. All we do is move him every night at 9 somewhere where E can’t reach him (we remember to move him thanks to an alarm on L’s phone). E loves to look and see where he is every morning. We make it as painless for the adults as possible. 🙂

    • Kate F. says:

      Christopher Pop-in-kins, hmm… CUTE! I’ve never seen or heard of him before 🙂 How did you hear about him? Definitely a little less on the “creepy side” LOL.

      • Kate L. says:

        My older sister has him. He was around a long time before the Elf on the Shelf (CP was created by a woman in Atwater, Ohio, who self-published a book about him in the ’80s, then Elf on the Shelf popularized it in ’05). Sidenote, my sister has THREE of them b/c she lost the first 2!

  4. Jenny says:

    We use Christopher Popinkins too, although with our 4 year old it’s more hide-and-seek than Santa-is-watching. We move him around and she finds him. We let her play with him (voiding the do not touch rule). We don’t put pressure on ourselves, if we forget to move him at night, we move him when we remember. I guess we’re breaking all the “rules”, but this works for us.

  5. Susi says:

    Hear, hear. No elf in my house… ever. Thankfully, the older two don’t “believe” anymore and the youngest has not learned of the pain that is the elf. Been reading too many horror stories to ever allow that thing in my house. We do very well without it. Thank you very much! 🙂

    • Kate F. says:

      You and me BOTH (regarding reading too many elf horror stories!) It is nice to actually read some “positive reviews” here from this post!

  6. I swore him off. Even wrote about it last year. Then my 10 year old convinced me to get one last week – it’s not Elf on the Shelf – it’s Christopher Pop-In-Kins. AND THEY LOVE HIM.

    He’s a happy, fun loving elf. Not mischievous or almost sadistic like some of the others I see/hear about.

    Really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉 (And he’s growing on me).

  7. Christin Lehnhart says:

    I didn’t do the Elf until this year. I saw pictures (CUTE pics, not creepy ones) of my friends and what their elves did in years past and thought it looked like fun. Since we decided not to do Polar Express this year as we have done in past years, I was looking for something else fun to do. Two of my good friends and I all got them this year and started on December 1st. I LOOOOOOVE the Elf! Ours is named Miles (because he flies miles and miles to see Santa every night). We are having a blast finding Miles each morning. It takes no time at all to put him in fun spots. I even went to bed early last night, forgot about him, and managed to get up early enough to move him quick from where he was yesterday reading a christmas book to the stuffed animals to the toy room where he was cozied up to a Barbie in her carriage this morning (that floozy! LOL!). My 6 year old swears she sees his head move and my willful 4 year old is starting to behave better when I tell her I’m going to tell Miles about her behavior. Look……the decision is ultimately up to you because as you said it’s one more thing you’ll have to do in the holiday season. BUT, for me and my family we love this tradition. All too soon my kids will start asking questions and the magic of this time in their lives will be over. I just want to capture it and expand on it as much as I can for as long as I can. And I believe I am making wonderful memories with my girls through this little elf. But if I know anything about you my dear friend, it’s that you are a master at making memories for your kiddos and if you don’t have room in your Christmas season for one more tradition, I doubt that skipping the elf will result in any therapy visits in the future for your kids! :o)

    • Kate F. says:

      I’ve been seeing your fun “Miles” posts on Facebook Christin 🙂 I love hearing all about your “Miles” stories! Even the name “Miles” is so cute and creative. It has been really nice to hear some of the positive aspects of the elf (and other similar ideas like Christopher Pop-in-Kins) through the responses left on this blog post – maybe one of these years I will consider an Elf addition to our family.

      I love how you described capturing the magic and memories of the holiday spirit with your elf. The questions of disbelief will eventually come (sooner than later) in our children and the memories you seem to be creating within your own family are definitely worth while.

      P.S. Thanks for the (much needed) reminder that I am not inducing “future therapy visits” for my kids (I need that reminder every once in a while). 😉 To each their own, right?

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