Tag Archives: elf on the shelf

Our Elf on the Shelf days are pretty much over (Wait while I do a fist pump...). I don't miss having to get up before the crack of dawn to set up some elaborate scene where it appears that "Jingles"has been having an exquisite tea party with Barbie while we slept.

I remember staying up late one night trying to attach our elf to a Christmas banner we have hanging in our entry way.  The idea was to make it look like she had been zip lining. Except that it didn't work out.  I finally gave up and stuck her in the Christmas tree, an idea that had already been used and was lame in the first place.

I have no shame in telling you that I didn't enjoy our elf.  She was too much work.  Our third child, the dreamer, got up every morning in anticipation of where "Jingles" was hiding. There were a couple of times I forgot to hide her and had to come up with a quick story about why she hadn't "moved" (as is the stupid rule that she must move to a different location in the house every night...What genius thought of that?).

I admit, my mind is fairly creative.  I can come up with a believable lie quicker than you can snap your fingers. ( I know, I probably shouldn't sound so proud to admit that fact. I did say I can come up with good lies but I never really confessed to the practice).

My Facebook scrolling this week has shown me that I'm not the only one who has neglected to move their elf, either by forgetting or oversleeping. Sure you can tell your children that their elf didn't move because "he hurt his leg" or some other carefully, but quickly thought out nonsense. But in my experience, fabricating why the family elf was stationery on Wednesday night isn't the best policy. It certainly shouldn't be the only policy.  One morning I tried something else.

The foolproof way to handle a bum elf (and other debacles):

Have you ever told your children to do something like get all of their junk out of the car? They get most of it but leave a jacket and you scold them for it, reminding them that you told them to get their stuff! They then insist that they did get their junk.  You tell them they didn't get the jacket then receive a genuinely puzzled look telling you that they didn't leave their jacket.  You march them to the car and present the proof to which they cool-ly respond, That's not mine. You spend an additional fifteen minutes explaining how they were the one who left the jacket in the car and therefore (whether it's their jacket or not, it's their responsibility to bring it in-with their junk-if they're the one who left it in the car.

My kids have a gift for implementing the element of confusion when we are having necessary conversations. Though I'm excellent at explaining things (I'm a teacher), they have often pulled a victory by simply convincing me that I have an inability to make them understand certain things like why they can't wear basketball shorts in forty degree weather.

After realizing their brilliance I decided to use the same method one night when the firstborn and I were watching TV years ago.  A commercial advertising something of a sexual nature came on.  My son asked me, "What's that?" I gave a befuddled look and responded, "I don't get it either."  He seemed satisfied with that and we got back to our thirty-minute sitcom.

Fast forward to a morning that I had forgot to move Jingle. The youngest complained, Why didn't Jingle move? I look at her baffled.  That's weird.  She didn't move. Hmm, I retorted. Her next question centered on what was for breakfast.

In a day and time where we think we have to have all the answers, there is sometimes power in not having one.

Besides having an occasional bum elf, your kid may suffer real problems like not getting invited to a party or not making a team they worked hard to be on. Even then, it's not always necessary, or helpful, to explain why something disappointing is happening. We don't always know the answer. Often the answer we spend precious time crafting and delivering isn't a cure. There's not always a fix.

 Sometimes entering the mystery with them is the best we can do.





I'm about to either brag or make a terrible confession.  I don't know which.

Yesterday I caved.  I bought an Elf on the Shelf. I decided several years ago that I wouldn't and every year I've stuck to it; from stubbornness more than principle. Until now.

I hid it in the cart at Target (not from my kids but from people like me who've decided they will not buy one, and from people who might think I don't know the meaning of Christmas).  At the checkout line I placed the box upside down as a token gesture of shame.  I started to explain to the clerk why I'd bought one, but for once, I had no words.

They're starting to form now.

I know there are several types of you out there reading this.  There are those of you that wonder why in the world I'd be ashamed.  I've probably seen pictures of your "Elves on the Shelves" posed in humorous manners and thought "I'd do that if we had one". Others, are possibly rolling your eyes because I've given in to the adult peer pressure unintentionally doled out by the "Mom's Club" (which I'm a sporadic member of). Then there are a handful of you who don't know/don't care about an Elf on the Shelf. I still don't know which category I fall in.  It changes according to my mood.

Our kids have only had their picture taken with Santa a few times.  Not because we're against it, but just because we're not that into it.  For one thing, I rather despise malls in the month of December. I hate waiting in line.  And honestly, I've made an attempt to make sure that Christmas is not about Santa, or reindeer.....or presents.......or believing hard enough so that you'll get the one thing you truly want.  And so I've found myself being a little rigid.  Christmas becomes a "naughty-nice list" of activities.  Threatening your kid to be nice or Santa won't come-Naughty. Making cookies for your neighbor-Nice. I want to do everything nice.....for Jesus

Rylie has been asking for an Elf on the Shelf for two years.  It was actually one of the few things she asked for this Christmas. I got her one not knowing if it was the nice or naughty thing to do.

I think now I'm realizing not everything divides up so easily that way.  I love looking at Christmas lights and reading letters to Santa asking for "ulektronicks" or "a new bik".  And though those activities don't have Jesus' name written all over them, they're a part of my Christmas.

She found "Jingle Belle", as she calls her, yesterday after school lined up with our nutcrackers on the fireplace. Getting ready to get comfortable in front of the TV, she had taken one shoe off.  That's when she spotted her elf and screamed.  She sat mesmerized for a good twenty minutes with just one shoe.

You're not supposed to touch your elf.  Where there's a will (or plastic claw), there's a way.
You're not supposed to touch your elf. Where there's a will (or plastic claw), there's a way.

I have gotten such a kick out of watching her pure joy.

And I think it's reminded me of something important that I routinely forget.  Our activities, whatever we choose them to be, aren't nearly so important as the meditations of our heart.  The kindness of gifts given with much thought- like Angel tree gifts and jars of homemade salsa, remind me where kindness comes from.  The joy brought on by laughter at an ornament swapping party, the sight of sleeping newborn on Santa's lap, or even by an Elf on the Shelf, points me to Jesus.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and redeemer. Psalm 19:14