The Elf on the Shelf

santa-clausIts that time of year again and everyone is buzzing and asking what Max and Dodge want for Christmas.  Max (almost 3) just wants a silver bell from Santa while Dodge (9 months) would like his two front teeth…seriously…they’re about to push through and this kid is in pain.  I’m sure both wishes will come true if they are “good little boys.”  We’ve tried to be careful with the opposite of that phrase in our house because we don’t want Max to think he’s a “bad boy” if he breaks a rule or throws a tantrum.  He’s 2…he breaks rules all day and tantrums are inevitable, that’s what 2-year-old’s do.  Instead we’ve explained that he’s “a good boy who sometimes behaves badly.”  To help reinforce this idea comes the children’s book sweeping the nation since 2005, “The Elf on the Shelf.”

Elf-on-the-ShelfI became aware of the book a few years ago when my sister and nephew introduced it to me.  The story is about how Santa has elves to help him know who’s been bad or good and one of them has come to your house to watch over you during the days leading up to Christmas.  The elf sits on a shelf and monitors your behavior, you can tell your elf messages to relay to Santa, you can’t touch the elf or he could lose his magic, and Santa has made a rule that the elf cannot talk to you.  Its like the Gestapo of the North Pole but in a sweet way…if there is such a thing.  Anyhow, every night when the kids are asleep your elf flies back to Santa and tells him about your good/bad behavior, your Christmas wishes, and all the good deeds you did.  Then your elf flies back home and in the morning there is a flurry of kids trying to find the elf’s new location.  Its a fun little game.

Last night, Max and I read “The Elf on the Shelf” before bed.  My mother bought it for him and read it to him yesterday so Max was very excited to review how it all works again.  On the last page you fill in when you welcomed your elf into your household and what name you have given him.  I asked Max to dream about his elf and think of a name for him when he arrives.

This morning…our elf arrived and was sitting on the mantle!

Max's Elf ("Fred") on the Shelf. Day 1.
Max’s Elf (“Fred”) on the Shelf. Day 1.
Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet

Max was very excited and ran from the dining room table to show me the elf when I came downstairs for breakfast.  There he was…sitting on the mantle next to the snow globe with a mischievous smile.  “You can’t touch him Dada…he can’t talk!”  I agreed and we reviewed the book.  I asked him, “Max, have you thought of a name for your elf so we can welcome him into our family?”  Max shook his head in a thundering yes and replied without doubt, “Fred VanVleet.”  Fred VanVleet is the starting point guard for the Wichita State Shockers and Max’s favorite player…Max pretends to be him all the time while shooting baskets.  I agreed it was a great name and so we welcomed “Fred” the elf into our family and our home.

elf-on-shelf-630x630Today Fred is going to keep an eye on Max and see if he picks up his toys when he’s done playing with them, see if Max is gentle with Dodge, see if Max tells us when he has to go potty, and keep a look out for arguments like when Max doesn’t want to go to bed or yells at Mama.  Where will Fred be tomorrow?  Hard to say…he’s an elf!  There are many shelves, ledges, and perches to sit on and quietly observe.  Many people’s elves help with fun nighttime activities such as our friend Maggie’s elf:  They planted Tic Tac’s in a bowl of sugar and in the morning the elf had turned them into candy canes!  Some friends have changed the messaging of the elf to be more religious so it is less about good vs. bad and more about honoring your faith.  However you choose to do it, its a fun tradition for any household and the kids love searching for the elf.  Here are some fun things other people’s elves have done:

So from our family and “Fred (VanVleet) the elf,” Merry Christmas!

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