I have to admit, I was reluctant to even give in to the Elf on the Shelf hoopla this year, given some stories I've heard and the daily maintenance required for repositioning. So when I decided we'd adopt an elf for the house, rather than go the usual route of most parents and purchase THE "Elf on the Shelf" complete with accompanying book for $30, I tried to be a bit more practical....well, cheap really. Hey, that $30 can be better spent on Pampers for Baby #3 in just a few months...Besides, does it really matter to my 5 and 7 year old if they have an authentic Elf on the Shelf?
Well as I've learned over the week, yes and no.
Our Elf: "Elfy", as the kids have affectionately named the androgynous Elf, was a $3.99 purchase from the clearance section of Hobby Lobby's holiday decor. Standing about 7 inches tall, it is a felt figurine dressed in elfin' attire with bendable legs, soft felt arms and face, and two braids made from string.
Day 1: Elf's Arrival
I positioned Elf where else but on a shelf in our kitchen and anxiously awaited the kids arrival home from school. I figured I'd introduce Elf, explain the ground rules as best I knew them (with it's low low price, this one didn't come with a book), and let the kids name it. The kids rush in, busily chattering about their day as book bags and coats fall to the floor, take one look at Elf and stop dead in their tracks:
5 year old: "What is THAT mommy? It's scary. I don't like it."
Me: "It's our Elf on the Shelf. I specially requested one from the North Pole for us."
7 year old: "Um.....(slight pause while he contemplates), that's not a real Elf on the Shelf. It's not real. It has a soft face. Everyone else's Elf on the Shelf has a plastic face and is a boy. This one has braids and it's a girl, so it's not real, mommy."
Hmmm...how to get out of this one? I forgot how second graders talk. After several minutes of explaining how everybody's Elf is unique, and while some people's may look the same (i.e. those families that purchased an authentic Elf on the Shelf), I sent a special email to Santa asking for one of his very friendly and extra fun elves that needs a home this Christmas. This is the one he sent us.
That seemed to satisfy them for the time being. They moved on to their after-school snacks, curiously studying the felt friend all the while.
Day 2: Don't Stop Believin'
This thing is supposed to magically position itself in unexpected places each day, so my husband and I decided we'd place it in the refrigerator, rifling through a box of Trix cereal. I guess we didn't realize that you are not supposed to touch Elf or it loses all its magic. Major oversight. While the kids got a kick out of Elf in the refrigerator and seemed to be starting to believe, it made getting anything in or out of the fridge a pain for the rest of the day.
"Mom, stop touching it!" they'd shout any time I tried to get to the juice or bread. They are starting to believe :)
The kids had a play date later that day, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them take the friends over to the fridge to show them Elf. As they all stood in front of the open refrigerator looking up at the felt friend peeking out of the Trix cereal box, I sensed a potential situation brewing...
7 year old: "We have an Elf on the Shelf too. He or she, I'm not really sure if it is a boy or a girl, put our cereal in the fridge."
Friend: "That doesn't look like our Elf on the Shelf."
5 year old: "Santa sent us this one special. It has a soft face.It's name is Elfy."
Whew! Crisis averted. I think its knock-off elfin' magic is starting to take hold...and they've given it a name :)
Days 3-5: Elfy's Antics and House Rules
The kids awaken each morning to find Elfy in various unexpected locations. Not only are the kids starting to enjoy waking up each morning to Elfy's antics, my husband and I are having fun thinking up various places to put the felt friend. It has hung from the ceiling fan, nibbled on bananas from the fruit bowl, and peeked out of Christmas stockings so far. On this particular morning, it decided to go for a ride on one of the camels from our nativity set in the living room.
The kids are so into Elfy and convinced of its magic now that my 7-year old has decided to publish house rules for everyone to follow. He crafts a list of "What to Not Do to Elfy" on a sheet of paper, makes several photo copies using my husband's copy machine, and proceeds to scotch tape the copies on various walls throughout the house.
Rule 1. Never touch any part of Elfy.
Rule 2. Leave Elfy wherever she is. (I guess they decided it is a "she").
Rule 3. Be nice to Elfy.
Rule 4. Don't kiss Elfy.
Rule 5. Don't hug Elfy.
Rule 6. Never get water on Elfy. (We're a little perplexed about this one. Is Elfy part Gremlin?)
While Elfy got off to a bit of a rocky start in the household, we've come to really enjoy it this holiday. So much so, Elfy the Knock-off Elf on the Shelf will be making an annual appearance at Christmas. In hindsight, it isn't even really about the Elf. Heck, I probably could have taken an old sneaker, introduced it as "Roger the Magical Christmas Shoe" and they would have loved it and found creative ways for it to spread its magic. It's all about celebrating that oh so fleeting wonderment and belief in the magic of the holiday season that only little ones can bring.