Now that it's November I've got Thanksgiving on the brain (I also bought Thanksgiving leftover cardboard boxes like two months ago from the dollar spot at Target, but let's leave that for another post, shall we?). Anyway, with the arrival of Thanksgiving in our family, another little friend usually arrived, the Elf. You may know him as The Elf on the Shelf, also known as "CRAP I FORGOT TO MOVE THE STUPID ELF UGH". The thing is, this year, he won't be back at our house.
We jumped on the Elf bandwagon when it first came out years ago, cute little guy, came with a book, what's not to love, right? We would take turns moving him, we would read the book at bedtime, I could even manage enough energy to come up with zany Elf related shenanigans to spice things up (okay most of them involved the Elf turning the toilet bowl water different colors, but I tried, okay?). But at a certain point things would turn a little....let's say "threatening-lite" with the ol' Elf visitor. If anyone got out of line, I'd point to the Elf, "He's watching you guys! You know who he reports back to, SANTA!". Or, I'll admit, I'd just go full out and say the Elf might actually cancel presents that year, etc. I'm not proud of it, I used my Elf as our family's own personal enforcer. Stay in line, or Elfie's gonna rat you out to the big guy.
I also, sort of, kind of...hated moving him. The first week or so I was SO into it and then that enthusiasm would take a sharp turn downwards and our Elf would hang out on the curtain rod for about eleven days or so until he would fall off and I would pretend his new "hiding spot" behind the couch was intentional. Nobody needs that "get out of bed to move the elf at 2am" anxiety.
Last year though, things really changed, because as I got ready to transition into FULL HOLIDAY MODE (it's a process, am I right?!) I couldn't actually find our Elf. I knew I had quickly grabbed the thing and shoved it into a hiding spot on the right day he's supposed to go back to North Pole or whatever it is he does, you know, to keep the magic alive, but the thing is, I had NO idea where it was. I searched high and low for this $25 stick figure looking creepy eyed Elf whose hat was ALWAYS FALLING OFF OMG and I finally said screw it and bought the cheaper "stuffed animal" style "girl" Elf because my oldest child was on to the whole thing and the younger kids were sort of still oblivious. I think I moved it around maybe twice?
Mostly though, I was just not into the idea of having a stuffed Elf dude dictating my kids behavior in the hopes of being rewarded with presents. It just kinda rubbed me the wrong way. And for me, it kind of sucked the fun out of the entire season. Beyond the whole "it's not about the presents thing", for us the Elf was now basically Big Brother watching for any missteps that might count them out on the booty on Christmas Day. So like, be good, but only because this skinny legged weirdo was watching from the top of the shower curtain. Nah. No thanks.
Then this year I started to see more of these henchmen popping up. There's now a spider who will serve the Elf's role but for Halloween. No joke. Be good, kids, the spider is watching! The Elf branched out and now will hang out in your house for birthdays too! SO FUN RIGHT?! Forget having your kids learn how to behave just because that's what they should do, have 'em learn because some mythical stuffed animal guy is watching them from their hiding spot! And if they ARE good, they'll be rewarded with material goods. Just, enough already.
Now, I get it, maybe some of you have an Elf that didn't turn into a somewhat unwelcome rule enforcer. Maybe some of you kept it light and carefree and have a great relationship with your Elf, and to that, I applaud you. Because that's what I'm all about, making the holiday season full of light and wonder and giving and kindness. We are just going to do it sans Elf this year. Somehow I think my kids will still find some magic in the season even if I don't have an Elf rearrange their closets while they're asleep.