How the Elf on the Shelf Saved Christmas
My 8-year-old daughter was iffy on Santa, until the Elf on the Shelf and his overnight antics made her believe again. Plus: cute ideas to try with your Elf on the Shelf
With two older brothers, my 8-year-old-daughter, Amelia, was street-smart for her age. Santa was on life support after the previous Christmas, when one of the boys pointed out to her that the Santa gifts and the gifts from us were wrapped in the same paper. I was doing my best to keep her "little," but I sensed her sweet, innocent stage was on life support, too.
The day before Thanksgiving last year, I bought an Elf on the Shelf on a whim. I thought it was just a cute decoration. Amelia had been after me to get a tree, but it was way too early. It was meant to hold her off.
She read the enclosure as I was stirring cranberries and sugar and boiling water. Homemade cranberry sauce was the only thing I made from scratch, because it could be done ahead.
"His favorite food is sugar cookies."
"That makes sense."
"If you touch him he loses his magic."
"And every night he flies to the North Pole, so every morning I'll find him in a new place!"
I put my spoon down and read it for myself. What have I done? It's not even Thanksgiving! That's just what I need: something else to do at night.
Eh, she won't really expect that to happen, I thought. And even if she does, I'll just say OF COURSE he can’t travel if it's raining or snowy or foggy, as its tag clearly states spot clean only.
I was just about to announce this amendment, when her brother Aden wrested the elf from her hand. Apparently he'd overheard stipulation number two, and not only touched it with great flourish, but licked it. Amelia was in sobs. I gathered her and the damp elf into my lap. She was too tall for lap sitting...her legs draped over me awkwardly, looking more like they belonged to a teenager than a 3rd grader.
"Mommy, is his magic really gone?"
What did I know? I guess so. I mean, no. Why did I buy this thing?
"Of course not! Santa knows your brother is a pain, and gave the elf extra magic just in case."
She sniffed and brightened just enough to let me know she appreciated my answer, but not so much that Aden would be off the hook.
Damn, does she really think this stiff felt fellow can fly? This is the kid who figured out that the infomercials give the special price to everyone, not just the first 100 to respond. It seemed weirdly unlikely, but her face told another story, so the nightly antics began.