Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Elf and Me

Elf on the Shelf 

Disclaimer - I am by no stretch of the imagination a parenting expert. Having been a mom for 26 years I do have a lot of experience. These are my observations and the opinioins are my own. 

With that said ... let's get in to the whole Elf on a Shelf "thing".

We had an Elf on the Shelf. If my memory serves me correctly my kids were half bought in to the idea that the Elf was keeping an eye on them for Santa as we approached Christmas. The Elf arrived when the days of them believing in Santa were on the way out. Now add in this elf guy and the doubts started to come fast and furious.
Some friends had Elves, some did not. How do you explain that one?
Some friends believed, some had the elf kicking around in their toybox among the other toys.

Truth be told, I may have been more in to it than my kids were. I remember a friend of my youngest daughter coming over and upon seeing our elf on the mantel shared that she had an elf at her house too. In fact, just that morning her little sister touched it.
"Wow." was my reply. "What happened?"
"Nothing. I don't think the Elf is real. My sister does and she's been crying all day about how she killed the magic."
4 years old, touching the elf ... a tragedy had fallen upon thier household. I really felt for that mom and the dilemma that she faced. One child in despair over her magic killing hands and another who is a non-believer.

Moms (and dads) seem fall in 2 distinct camps. There's the ones who would come up with an elaborate plan that included a letter to Santa about the dilemma of having touched the elf, a return letter from Santa and some magical dust that will fix that little elf right up and return his magical powers.

In the second camp there's the mom who would hope that the elf would be forgotten. In fact, she rues the day that little guy entered their household. It seemed like a good idea at the time but moving that little guy each night was a lot of pressure.

Here's where the mommy wars come in. The moms can't win. Keep the magic going and you are criticized as an over achieving uber mom. Fall in the category of mom who hopes their kids "forget" about the darn elf and you're a slacker who must not love their children.

Fast forward to conversation with some teenagers recently. The topic of the Elf on a Shelf came up. Each girl had their own unique memory of the elf. One dressed hers, another remembered the elf landing at the bottom of the stairs after a fall and not knowing what to do, the third recalled thinking her Elf was frozen from the cold because he had not moved in 2 days and the last girl got them all remembering their elf's name. None of them brought up their mom or dad as they related to the elf. None of them seemed to have any lasting self esteem issues related to love and their Elf on the Shelf experience. They were all looking back on that time fondly. A fifth friend joined us. She shared she was so glad she never had an Elf because "they creeped me out".

It has always bothered me that I have no idea what happened to Red, our elf. I remember going to the attic one December to bring down the Christmas stuff and the box was there, the book was in the box but no elf. I thought for sure I had carefully stored him away but apparently not. In the craziness of the season he seemed to have been misplaced.
As time went on I was sure I would come across him. He had to be somewhere in the house ... Since that year we have moved and taken out and put away the Christmas decorations, lights and photos many times and still no elf. My conclusion as I write this - Red went back to the North Pole that year and returned the next year to a family with children who believed in him. I told you ... I was more in to it than the kids. I truly believe in Christmas magic and I hope I am right and a lovely young family and Red are making holiday memories.

To the moms and dads of young kids - I hope you are not feeling too much pressure. The good news is the kids will not remember where you fell short, they will remember that once upon a time it was the Christmas season, they were young with imaginations that go along with their age and they had an elf.

And to the parents who don't do the Elf thing, don't worry. As it happened with my son one might show up at college. I am so tempted to say that it must be an uber mom who sent the little guy to my sons school in a handmade outfit that mirrors the uniforms worn by the students ... but why? I hope some kids and parents are getting a huge kick out of it. I know I am.

Wonder what they will name him?

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