Accepting Defeat

There are so many posts these days about the Elf on the Shelf and while I tried to resist the urge to weigh in so as not to be redundant, I couldn’t do it. The tiny creepy-faced elf is stirring up conversation all over the blog world and I want to say my piece. Bottom line is, I am not a fan of this tradition. I learned how to get to the point quickly by last week’s haiku challenge but since I am not limited by syllables here, I am going to digress.

The last six years have been filled with adding and tweaking traditions and memories to our family, especially during Christmas time. I have dropped some of the traditions from my childhood, possibly to the chagrin of my mom. For example, she always gave us Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve as our one gift to open. I dropped this tradition two years ago because my kids wore the Christmas jammies that one night and never again. Wearing Santa pajamas in June just did not work for me. So, in the interest of indulging my fussiness and not wasting new pjs, I let that one go and instead let my kids open one fun gift. Another tradition I am considering changing is the Christmas ornament gifting. I always put it in their stocking, as my mom always did for my sister and I, but this year as we were decorating the tree, I came across last year’s ornaments that were never opened. While it is fun to rediscover them, I’d rather them hung during the year they are purchased. I suppose we could just hang them on Christmas morning, but I’m one of those people who feel the holiday is over at the end of Christmas day; I’m not into letting it linger for very long. I leave the tree up a few extra days but it doesn’t get the same doting. I need to come up with a solution to the ornament giving habit without letting my kids open too many gifts before Christmas. That tweak may have to happen next year.

As for new traditions, one we recently added is the Elf on the Shelf. I didn’t write his given name last year in the story book and alas, we forgot, so my daughter renamed him “John” this year. Elf John barely made it out of the box and if it had been up to me, he would have been shipped back to his maker in the North Pole. Last year, we made a big to-do over Elf “Whatever his name was” and my son had no clue what he was while my daughter was kind of scared of him. I really can’t blame her, he still creeps me out. But, we enthusiastically went on with it. My husband and I had fun with it for about three days. Then, we forgot one night and I woke up at 2am in a sweaty panic. This happened a few times and I’d rush out to move him without much thought as to where and he’d end up boringly sitting on a shelf with a look like, “Really?!?”. Other times my husband would spend too much time placing him in “unique” locations. One of those unique locations was in the corner of the ceiling in the hallway so that Elf “Who knows what” was kind of looming above. It was weird. We made it through the holiday moving Elf “Can’t remember his name” all over the house while my son was oblivious and my daughter showed only mild interest.

This year, I began my argument against No Name Elf early. I stated my case that the tradition is silly and nonsensical, that I didn’t want to lose sleep or wake up in a sweaty panic this year, that my intention this year is to simplify and having to move a little toy all over the house every single night when my daughter could have cared less was NOT simplifying or adding joy to my life. But, I lost. My husband knew how to win me over by saying it would be wasteful


NOT to use the Elf since we bought him after all. In the end, he said “let’s do it one more year and see how it goes, maybe the kids will be more into it!” I reluctantly agreed and delegated the moving of the Elf to my husband. So, the Elf came out and was dubbed John by my daughter.

Day 1 he was on the mantle and I remembered to move him that night. My daughter looked for him the next morning but quickly moved on to other things. Another point against John the Elf; I was keeping score to fuel my arguments for the next year. Then, this morning at 5am I awoke in a sweaty panic wondering if Elf John had been moved. I got up, noticed he hadn’t and in a sleepy haze moved him tallying one more mark against him in my head. After texting my husband about my sweaty panic and how that was one tradition I did NOT want to create, my daughter woke up and yelled from her bed, “mom!!! I’m getting out of bed to go find the elf!!!” Crap! Point for John.

She ran out and excitedly went looking for him and laughed and laughed about where he “had landed”. She began asking questions about him and where he goes at night and other such wonders. It warmed my heart and gave Elf John a fighting chance. My husband responded to my earlier text saying maybe John could spend a few nights in the North Pole rather than visit every day which I thought was brilliant until I saw the magic in my daughter’s face. Looks like Elf John is here to stay, for better or worse.

32 thoughts on “Accepting Defeat

  1. Elf on the shelf is new to me — I think his stay in the North Pole apt and all the more mysterious and enchanting. Great post 😉

  2. I spent most of last christmas wondering what Elf on the Shelf was, so thank you for telling me all about it! And I have decided we won’t be buying one 😉

  3. We bought an Elf last year and I wasn’t super in love with it. We also has a few ‘Oh Crap’ moments, which mostly got sorted out. I don’t like it in part because I feel like I am lying. I don’t mind playing make believe games and telling stories but when we do that the kinds know it is a game. Everytime they ask a question about the Elf and I have to think up an answer I feel like I have added a lie on to another lie. In our house all he does is move and fill our advent truck thing with candy each morning, the insane pictures of the Elf doing nutty things boggle my mind. Power to them I guess.

    • I guess so, if others enjoy spending time making up various scenes, then great. not me. I feel kind of bad lying too but it really is quite magical how children can make such huge leaps of faith.

  4. The Elf totally freaks me out and I’m so glad he wasn’t around when Mr. T was little! I get the premise and think it’s fun for the kids to find him in new places and doing new things every day – and I like to see what other creative parents have come up with – but really?

    I have never lied to Travis about the holiday season, as soon as he asked about Santa I told him that Santa was the embodiment of the Christmas spirit and was here to remind us to be good all year long, to help others and spread good cheer, but that he wasn’t a “real” person. He was the good that lives inside us manifested in a physical being. So… I probably wouldn’t have ever done the Elf, it doesn’t fit with my philosophy, and really, who has that much time? 🙂 Apparently you and your husband do! So good luck! Maybe this afternoon you can down load a calendar and then search Pinterest for ideas and just put an idea down for each day and that will give you a set list of things to have John the Elf doing!

    • I really love your explanation of Santa when Mr. T started to realize he wasn’t real. I will have to put that in my back pocket for when that day comes in a few years.
      But no, my husband and I do not have the time, hence the constant forgetting and unimaginative places he gets left 😉 it seems every waking minute is accounted for in our lives which is why simplifying this season is so important to me. Planning his placement each day is a great idea, in theory…but the making of the calendar is the time consuming part. haha! and around and around I go. Maybe someone else should make one and post it on Pinterest for others to scavenge! (hint hint) muah!

  5. Aww thank you for adding my link honey, shofar we have loved this tradition but I also know we too will have those panicky rushed moment of damn we didn’t move the elf.

    Happy elf journeys from this point on xx

  6. Ha! I love your reasoning on both sides of the issue. I ended up giving in because Piper wanted one so we have an elf somewhere in my attic. I haven’t been able to get home and into my decorations yet, but I’m aching to do it. I’m gonna go all out with the Elf this year and see if we can start a fun tradition, too : )

  7. I’m with Kate … elf is creepy. He’s all over Pinterest and I just want the holidays to end so I can stop seeing him do weird things with that creepy look on his face.

  8. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about not wanting one and my son thinking they were dumb. Then Grandma bought my daughter one this year. She’s 8 so it’s not a huge deal and I’m waiting for something to happen to write my “so we actually did get an elf” blog post. Grandmas. 😉 I just stick it on her doll furniture at night or do something extremely simple before I go to bed. This morning, she didn’t even look for it. I was hoping it could be a game where we’d all take turns doing funny things with it but honestly, I can’t tell if she thinks the thing is real.

  9. I was just introduced to the Elf of the Shelf at a cousin’s house the other day. I think it is pretty cute and sort-of help with the “how does Santa know what I’m doing” question. My 2 year old is just sort of grasping the Santa concept, so we have a ways to go. This does pose some interesting philosophical questions though :). I don’t know if we’ll end up doing it, but I do think it sounds like a lot of fun.

  10. *shiver* I am not a fan of the elf. BUT I actually really like the concept. It’s just that creepy expression I can’t stand! 😛 Maybe I’ll do it with another character we have. Hmm…

  11. Ah, I had to laugh! I found your blog through Perfection Pending (bravo!) and was scrolling through to find this. Ha! I blogged about our elf, Frosty-Bo-Bo-Dee, in Suess-ian prose in early December as well. Ours disappeared last year (who knows where he goes on Christmas Eve after putting together a toy kitchen and a trampoline while drinking a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, am I right?) In the end, though, it was our four kids who reminded me that he had yet to return. I avoid the threats based on his tattle-taling propensities but do love to watch them on the prowl each morning. The things we do for our kids. Even 5 am night-sweats over whether he’s flown anywhere…
    Looking forward to checking out the rest of your blog!

    • Sounds like we share a lot in common over the little elf friend, in particular, red wine drinking on Christmas Eve! ha! Its hard not to do things for our kids when it brings them such joy. My husband and I discussed this tonight as the “holiday season” ,meaning Halloween to my daughter’s birthday at the end of January, comes to an end and I am relieved. But it is such fun at the same time! Thanks for reading, commenting and following! I look forward to checking out your blog as well!

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