They say “Christmas Is For Children” and as a parent, I’m finally learning what that really means. While we are working hard to teach them it’s a time to think of others less fortunate, inevitably my kidlets are now hip to what a big part of the holidays is. Getting presents. Luckily, they are also starting to understand that if they don’t behave, they just might wind up with a lump of coal in their stockings. And this change literally happened “overnight.” Let me explain…
This year, all my four-year-old son can talk about is his Christmas list. When he sees something on TV, or if we’re out at the store, he wants to make sure Santa knows it’s on his “wish list”. I always tell him yes, that he can put anything on his list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Santa will bring it. I’m not sure he gets that, but fortunately he’s found so many things to add to his list that there is no way he could ever remember them all. He’s your typical boy; all he wants is cars, trucks, more cars and more trucks!
Now, I’ve been warning my kidlets since the middle of July they better behave because “Santa is watching.” Let me point out, my kids are not “bad” by any stretch-they have their moments, of course, but I feel very lucky that they are both so sweet and (generally) well-behaved. My son is four and as most parents find out, four-year-olds are well, INSANE! He has way too much energy, way too much to say and is constantly testing his boundaries. So by the time the middle of November rolled around, my “Santa is watching” line was totally played out and falling on deaf ears.
That’s when I started reading on Twitter about Elf on the Shelf. I had heard of it, but really had no idea what it was. After I found out, a lightbulb went off over my head. Elf on the Shelf was sure to be my answer to having angel-like behavior between Thanksgiving & Christmas…at least I hoped!
My hubs picked up our Elf on The Shelf not at the North Pole, but rather at Target, where I suspect a lot of Santa’s presents actually come from.
My son was super-excited by the box, a new book and the strange-looking doll inside, whom we named “Jelfie.” We then explained Jelfie would be here all day to watch them, and when they went to sleep at night, he would zoom back to the North Pole and report to Santa on whether they were “naughty” or “nice” that day, and they would see him hiding in a new place the next morning when they woke up.
Once Jelfie’s true mission was revealed, our son’s expression went from excitement to well, frankly, a look of horror. He clearly wanted no part of Jelfie and certainly did not want this strange intruder in his room, spying on his every move. After 15 minutes of improvised child psychology, my hubs and I reassured our son that Jelfie was cool and nothing to be scared of. In fact, having Jelfie here as Santa’s eyes and ears was actually a good thing-provided he behaved, of course!
Great, I thought instead of starting a Christmas tradition, I started a holiday horror story for my kid. But the hubs & I decided to stick with it and placed Jelfie on the fireplace mantle, front and center in the living room and hoped for the best.
For the first few days, there was zero reaction from the kidlets. They didn’t care where he was, or who he was watching. Perhaps they figured if they ignored him, he might go spy on some other unsuspecting kids. Jelfie was turning out to be a total bust and was taking it hard himself – see photo here. Maybe my kids were too young and we should try again next year.
The hubs & I then cooked up a new Elf On The Shelf strategy. When Jelfie saw that the kidlets were on their best behavior, the next day he’d leave them a little treat. Nothing big – a piece of Santa chocolate, a holiday sticker or little wind up trinket.
Low and behold – Jelfie suddenly became a superstar in our household. Now he wasn’t the enemy, watching for bad behavior and putting them on Santa’s naughty list. He was there to celebrate all the good things they did each day. Success!
Now every morning it’s a game for my two-year-old daughter to come downstairs and find Jelfie and his latest hiding place. She squeals with delight every time she finds him! Maybe I’m biased (duh!), but I think it’s adorable!
Jelfie’s hidden on the kitchen towel rack, been awkwardly crammed into the poinsettias, balanced on the small Christmas tree on the kidlets play table, even precariously perched from the folds of the drapes and, of course, placed on a shelf – after all, he is the Elf on the Shelf.
My son now can’t wait to tell Jelfie what a great day he had-how he helped someone at school or did something around the house….sure, I know he really wants to score a piece of chocolate, but if it gets him to be on his best behavior, I won’t say no.
What will I do once the Christmas holidays are over? Is there a “Cupid on The Shelf”– that will bring chocolate for Valentine’s Day in exchange for good behavior?!
Do you have an Elf On the Shelf? What’s your Elf’s name and who named him?
The Christmas: A Time For Elf Reflection by The Harried Mom, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.