All right moms, real talk. On a scale of 1 to therapy-for-life, how bad would it be if our visiting Christmas elf had an accident? Nothing too murder-y, but like a tumble down the stairs or maybe he gets flung from his sacred shelf while trying to hilariously position himself like he does each night?
How traumatizing would that be, really?
So, why am I pondering a potential elf demise? Well, here’s the deal: I need an out.
Somehow, over the years, I have taken on more and more Christmas traditions. Despite my best intentions to keep the holidays low-key, I gave in to the lure of mischievous elves and advent calendars and service projects and neighbor gifts and parties.
And now I’m in over my tinsel-loving head.
I knew it was time for something (or someone) to get the ax when my daughter asked recently when our elf would be showing up. All her friends' elves had shown up. “All of them, Mom,” she told me as if she was somehow being deprived of a basic necessity of life since it was Dec. 4 with no elf high jinks to show for it. The humanity!
And all I could think was how much I didn’t want to have that darn little elf make his appearance because once he does, it means starting the nightly ritual of forgetting to move his lazy little behind every night to a new spot. It means me going to bed, all warm and comfy, and then remembering that I didn’t move him and having to haul myself up so I don’t ruin the magic of this Christmas tradition I wish I had never started.
So yea, Elfie’s gotta go. And I need to scale back.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these cute Christmas traditions that we do for our kids. Some years, I’ve been totally into the little elves and their clever tricks. The trouble is, I’ve added new traditions each year, never wanting to say no to something that could be fun or memorable for my kids. I want Christmas to be full of magic and wonder and excitement for them, as it was for me.
Except I didn’t have an Elf on the Shelf. (I know, I know, someone call child services!) Don’t get me wrong, my Christmas memories are full of nostalgia and the magic of gingerbread houses, advent calendars and tree shopping in the bitter cold.
I’m sure my own mom ran around through December like a crazy person, too. (I honestly don’t even understand how Christmas shopping works without the Internet.) Like moms have done forever, I’m sure she was working hard behind the scenes to make Christmas memorable for us.
But my best memories are not of gimmicks. They were of the moments together. How it felt to find the perfect tree and watch Dad chop it down. The warmth of hot chocolate or the joy of sneaking an M&M off the gingerbread roof. The quiet when we’d finally finished decorating and Mom would turn out the lights and we’d all sit, hushed, in the glow of the lights filling our family room.3 comments on this story
Those are the feelings I’m trying to give my children, and I’m realizing this year they don’t come from an elf or a calendar or even trying to cram in countless acts of service by the end of the month.
Those feelings come from slowing down. From actually enJOYing the season — together. From turning, together, toward the little baby in the manger to contemplate the peace he would bring.
I’m still not exactly sure what will become of our visiting elf this year. I may let him survive. I’m pretty sure he’s gonna scale back, though. Find some work-life balance. Take a few nights off here and there to let the kids (and me!) realize that Christmas will go on just fine without him.