Elf on the Shelf: Tradition or torment

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Our Elf on the Shelf, Vixen, has had quite an entertaining sense of humor this year.

By Correne Martin

Vixen is his name. He’s the Elf on the Shelf in our household. My kids, ages 6 and 3, are infatuated. It’s a contest, every morning, to see who can spy him around the house first. 

Vixen brings the magic of the season, some good lessons, laughs and love to our family. Some nights, he’s more work than others, but I can honestly say, his presence has been wonderful for us. 

The jolly little guy, with light skin, blue eyes, brown hair, and a Santa red hat and bodice, first showed up on our doorstep a week or two into last holiday season. He came inside a box with a hardbound book that acquainted us with who he was, why he came to visit and what his all-important task was, as given by Santa Claus himself. We continue to read the rhyming book often, as the kids like to be reminded of Vixen’s enchanting Christmas role and see the adorable watercolor scenes of Santa and his elf brigade. 

We got our elf on an impulse. I had viewed the side-splitting antics of other families’ scout elf boys and girls. Admittedly, I’m one of those moms who never wants their children to miss out on any tradition. So I couldn’t even wait until an after-Christmas sale; I splurged the $30 at Hartig Drug, brought him home, jingled a few bells and told the kids Santa must’ve showed up while they were napping. They found the box sitting on our front porch swing.

The tradition goes as follows, according to the manufacturer. Year after year, children and adults alike are baffled by the mystery of how Santa really knows who’s been naughty or nice. After much urging by the elves and Mrs. Claus, Santa has allowed his biggest secret to be revealed in “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” At the start of each Christmas season, the elf appears to serve as Santa’s eyes and ears, traveling back to the North Pole each and every night to make a detailed report of the day’s activities. Then, the elf flies back to his new family and hides in a different place so children believe he made the trip. No one can touch him, because he’ll otherwise lose his magic. But anyone can talk to the elf and share messages with Santa through him.

You may think I’m the creative type. But, truthfully, I’m quite the opposite. Other than the words that flow out of my fingers on the computer, I have little wit. It takes some serious Pinterest inspiration for me to devise anything decorative or funny. And, even then, my creations never look like the original. 

As such, where do I turn for my Elf on the Shelf ideas? Well, thankfully, my husband is the humorous one or, of course, I seek out my friend, the World Wide Web.

Our first Christmas season with Vixen—whose name our kids selected from the list of Santa’s reindeer—was mediocre, I’d say. We started out with some hysterical hiding places—like the refrigerator, a stocking, the chandelier. But, we were quickly knocked off our game by the daunting pressure that comes with having a scout elf to move to a surprising new place every night. I never accounted for needing to hide him late, after the snores escape from the little ones’ bedrooms, but also when I’m tired and my mind isn’t anywhere near as playful as is necessary for entertaining ideas.

We got through Christmas 2017 without forgetting to move Vixen, spoiling the surprise somehow, setting him afire or throwing him out the window. 

Then, he was packed away with our Christmas decorations in storage. 

In 2018, I felt in the spirit a little earlier than usual, probably thanks to the kids excitement. They’re honestly the perfect age for this cherished time of year. Thanks to some free time, too, the weekend after Thanksgiving, the kids and I pulled the Christmas chaos out of the closet. As we made our way through the boxes, I had forgotten that I stashed the Elf on the Shelf in among the mess. 

I asked my son what was in one small box. He flipped the lid open, and “tada.” There he was. Both of us were shocked. 

“Vixen came early this yearrrrr!” I proclaimed, trying to disguise my phony excitement.

The fun and games has been going on for three weeks now. With about a week left, before Vixen “flies back to the North Pole” for the off-season, I can say I’m proud of the solid, sometimes mischievous ideas my husband and I have carried out consistently. Our handiwork has unlocked additional joy around the house, that’s for sure. 

This year, Vixen has drawn Minions on bananas, ziplined from the ceiling fan, farted in a jar, snuck into the candy bucket where we found him face down, written little notes to teach lessons, etc. 

This Christmas has been so great that I’m starting to wonder if we’re actually overdoing the amusement factor. What am I going to do for Christmas 2019? I can’t hide Vixen in the same spots. That’s boring, and suspicious. 

Perhaps I’ll be one of those parents buying into all the blown-up commercialism of the Elf on the Shelf. I could get a girl elf, one of those cute bomber jackets or another of the many available outfits, or some of the other novelty props. I can’t lie; I’m sure I’ll peek at the deals post-Christmas.

Ultimately, I hope we can keep the magic alive for as long as possible. Vixen may only tell Santa the nice things the kids do; because if he told him the naughty things too, our kids would be getting coal. Nonetheless, it’s what works in our home.

Vixen is part of our family at Christmas. The little rascal keeps our son and daughter on their toes and, as crazy as it seems, they love him. As for me, I love their innocent imagination. I’ll hang onto these days as long as I can.

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