It seems like everyone has heard of Elf on a Shelf, you know – the wee plastic and felt elf doll that comes to life at night, spies on the behaviour of small children, and reports back to the big red guy. They appear to be really popular this year. I’ve seen many people writing about their Elf’s exploits, or sharing images of where they found their Elf hiding this morning.
Last year my husband and I discussed the whole Elf on a Shelf concept and decided that yes, it’s something we’d like to adopt for next year. However, this year rolled around and we both forgot about it until several days into December. In the meantime, my daughter, who has a really wilful streak, has been refusing to clean her bedroom and lying fit to beat Pinocchio. Hubby fixated on the idea of the Santa-Elf-Spy as just the be-good-or-else tool we needed to help get Grace back into line.
So a few days ago we put in a call to Saint Nick and he sent over one of his scout elves. Now every child knows you can not touch the Elf or his magic will go, but as every grown-up knows the secret manual Saint Nick sent over informed us that not only are parents welcome to touch the Elf, we’re actually invited to help him find good spots to hide and fun things to do while staying at our place.
When our Elf arrived in our home my husband and I helped him out of his box and found him a cozy place to perch. I was a bit surprised at how cheaply made he was, being one of Santa’s own toys I had expected more. Given his mission of spying and playing hide-and-seek with the kids in various places throughout the house, I had expected posable wire limbs and was surprised to find that his red felt arms and legs merely seemed to have cardboard inside to help keep them stiff.
Our Elf perched up on top of a bookshelf in the front room – right next to the kid’s Playmobil advent calendar display, with a new picture book propped in front of him – patiently waiting for an entire day until my daughter finally noticed him. Where had this Elf come from? She immediately assumed that Santa Claus himself must have placed him there! We sat down as a family and read his book, learning his story, and the ever important rule – do not touch the Elf or his magic will go.
Grace named the Elf Knick-Knack, carefully lined herself up within his line of sight and earnestly assured him that she’d been quite good at school that day. Her father teased her about touching the Elf, asking again and again, “Should I go pick him up? Should I lift him down so you can see him?” and she would reply, “No, no! We can’t touch him Dad! Not at all!”
Having had our family chat, and introduced Knick-Knack the Elf to our family, I headed upstairs to put Gigi to bed. As I was helping the little one into her PJs I could overhear my husband downstairs talking with our daughter. She had already decided that she need only be good in the front room where the Elf could see her, the rest of the house being fair game. I could hear my husband trying to explain to Gracie how he was pretty sure the Elf could see her everywhere because of his magical powers. Five minutes passed, then ten as Gigi and I snuggled in her room, rocking quietly in the chair.
Then I heard a commotion coming from the ground floor. My husband’s voice sounding stern, and then Grace sobbing loudly in her bedroom. I hurried to finish up tucking Gigi into bed and rushed downstairs hoping I could smooth things over. I found Grace in her bed already asleep, the light still on in her room. Her eyes half opened when I walked in, then tiredly flickered shut. I saw Knick-Knack sitting on top of a play clothes hat, smack in the middle of Grace’s dresser. I scooped him up, turned off the light and gently shut her door.
Apparently, once I was busy putting her sister to bed and her father was busy on the computer, Rainbow took her stool out of the bathroom and helped Knick-Knack down from the bookshelf. She smuggled him down the hall and into her room, where she placed him on top of her dresser. She then excitedly burst into the computer room and told her Dad,
“Wow, you should have seen it, that Elf just flew down the hall and right into my bedroom! He’s sitting on a hat! Come see, come see!”
My husband knew she was lying, and I think he was pretty upset. He told her how disappointed he was and asked her what she thought would happen to the Elf now that she had touched him.
When I heard all of this I thought, Oh, you have got to be kidding me! In my heart, I knew that my girl would eventually mess with the Elf, but this I never expected. Our Elf didn’t even make it thirty minutes! I think we may have set a record for shortest Elf visit ever.
In the end, my husband and I helped Knick-Knack pack his bags and sent him on his way back home to Santa. The next morning my daughter barged into my bedroom and said, “That Elf walked out of my room! I looked everywhere! I think he’s gone, Mom! How could he get out of my room?!?”
Personally, I’m hoping that Santa will restore the magic charm and send his Elf back to us for a second chance.