This year, “Elf Management” has been added to my seasonal resume; along with Head Baker, Interior Decoration Supervisor, Exterior Decoration Assistant, Lighting Designer, Personal Shopper, Party Planner, Event Planning and Coordination, Stylist, Hostess, Executive Chef, Head Wrapper, Card Designer, Christmas Letter Writer and Keeper of Traditions.
Elf Management means that yesterday, our family officially adopted an “Elf on the Shelf” and named him Noodle. In true Brewer fashion, the beginning of this tradition was anything but simple.
I knew it would be. That is why I haven’t attempted the Elf on the Shelf Tradition before now. The fact is that no one in the under ten crowd around here just goes with the flow, accepts anything without a thorough line of questioning or is likely to “buy into” the idea of a tiny plastic elf watching their behavior, coming to life at night and flying to the North Pole and reporting to Santa. They all believe in Santa (although David has begun relentlessly questioning Santa’s legitimacy) but that is because he is a part of their own imaginations and is not sitting on a shelf where he can be scrutinized and inspected for authenticity.
Initially, it was my overly analytical, slightly cynical, too smart for his own good eight year old that I was most concerned about. I was absolutely convinced there was no way he was going to buy into this and I tried my best to prepare for the barrage of questions I would get from him.
Why would Santa need an elf to watch us? Can’t he just check the naughty/nice list? How did he know before? We never had and elf before. Or maybe he isn’t actually real. Challenging head tilt, penetrating stare. Why does it look so fake? How can it just sit there all day? How can it see and hear us if it is frozen? Does it eat? Does it go to the bathroom? How can it know what I do at school or when I am not in same room or when I am outside or when I am beamed up into a space ship, kidnapped by aliens and transported to a distant planet where they make copies of my giant overly inquisitive brain to implant in their robot army? How? Why? How? Why? How? How? How?
Do you see why I ramble?
To make matters worse, I messed up from the get-go. I decided to buy the plush elf doll rather than the little plastic version. I thought it was cuter and a little less creepy than the plastic doll which, truth be told, is a little creepy. Also, I really didn’t want to spend $29.99 for the book and the elf. So, I opted for the plush one which as it turns out is actually just intended to be a toy the kids can play with since the cardinal “Elf on the Shelf” rule is NO TOUCHING your elf, making him off-limits for playing.
Bob, the soft and cuddly imposter Elf. Nathan now calls him Chippy.
I could have lived with this except for the simple fact that the plush one doesn’t look remotely like it could watch you all day and then come to life when you are asleep and the plastic one does (a little) – which is probably why it is creepy. My friend Eileen introduced Elf on the Shelf to her kids this year too and her 4-year-old daughter won’t go anywhere near it, won’t even enter the room it is in. Just a little creepy.
Trying to pull this off with the plush elf was just not going to happen. A.) my children would never buy it (see reasons stated above) and B.) I have a five-year-old who loves all things soft and cuddly, has severe impulse control issues and is incredibly resourceful, rendering this irresistible plush toy elf useless in my attempts to implement this Christmas
I tried it, here’s how it went.
I placed the plush elf on the middle shelf of my baker’s rack with the “Elf Story” DVD and a note that read, “Hi, I am your elf. Sent by Santa to watch over you. Please give me a name, but don’t touch me or I’ll lose my magic. Watch my movie to learn more about me.” Remember, I was too cheap to buy the book and I thought the “visual” might be more convincing. I was wrong. After the video, Nathan walked up to the shelf, poked the elf in the leg and said “Dat not real. Dat not like the moobie. Dat haff noooo magic.” And then David (the skeptical 8-year-old) screams “NAAAATHAN TOUCHED THE ELF. DON’T TOUCH THE ELF. YOU CAN’T TOUCH THE ELF. HIS MAGIC IS GONE!!!!” Nathan, sensing he is being accused of a terrible crime, shoves David to the ground and shouts back “IT NOT REAL, DAVID!” David, “YES IT IS, Nathan, you always mess everything up!!”
David is now asking me in a very worried voice, “will he have elf friends who can get him get to the hospital at the North Pole?” (this is what happened in the elf movie). To which Nathan yells from his room (where he is now sitting on his bed in time-out) “DAVID, IT NOT REAL! – I TOLL! YOU! DAT!” And then, suddenly, David looks at me with relief as a great realization washes over him“Wait, wait, we’re okay. The movie said that the elves don’t get their magic until they are named. We haven’t named ours yet so he didn’t have his magic yet when Nathan touched him so he had no magic to lose. So once we name him, he’ll have magic and it will be okay. Nathan from his room, “DAVID. It not real.”
Ironically, it was Nathan who ended up naming our elf. In an attempt to convince him and get him onboard, I asked him what he wanted to name the elf and he said, “I no, no (I don’t know)? Maybeeeee NOODLES!” Perfect, we all loved it. Noodles it is. But he still wasn’t buying it which was evidenced when he touched Noodles on the leg right after having named him. Poof. Magic gone. David beside himself. Sara rolling her eyes, looking at us all like we are lunatics (in the way only a nearly “tween” can) and stating “I’m going to my room to watch Ant Farm (tween girl show).”
Wow. I have grossly misjudged this on so many levels.
What am I going to do now? In an effort at damage control and salvaging this “Happy Christmas Tradition” it became obvious that it would be necessary to introduce the “real thing”. After church, I left the kids with a friend and ran to Target to purchase the $29.99 elf/book combo bringing my grand total for this new adventure to, well, more than it needed to be. Incidentally, they only had girl elves left. I do have a daughter but she is almost eleven (more later on God’s sense of humor at giving me a daughter with a birthday the week before Christmas) and more interested in Ant Farm, so I was looking for a boy elf. I bought the girl just in case and drove to two other places that had nothing but dust and a few pieces of lint where all the elves had been. Girl elf it is, the skirt is sold separately and I’ll paint over her ear-rings, they’ll never know.
To introduce the “real” elf without completely losing all credibility and hope of belief, I came up with this letter:
I am your true elf and today I’m making my appearance. I heard there were children here who might not believe so I placed a stuffed elf to fill in for me. I wanted to sit hidden, quiet and neat to see what I would see, how an elf you would treat.
I’m a little sad to say that you were not very nice yesterday, to each other or my stand-in, I call him Bob. I hope that will change on this day, my first true day on the job.
Nathan, you touched the elf with your finger, even when your mom said if you do, I would have to linger. My magic would be gone and I would be stuck, an elf not believed in and so out of luck. Thankfully who you touched is a toy, a decoy placed by me to test the curiosity of a small boy. You were right, he’s not real but I surely am so please treat me carefully so I don’t get in a jam.
I hope you have learned to see that you need me and learned not to touch and not to be greedy. I’m here now for real to watch over you and report back to Santa all that is true.
I hope that I can tell him of Christmas Cheer and of all the other things that he so likes to hear. Things like …
Kind words and clean rooms, good attitudes and responsibility, finished homework and helping hearts, trying hard and being thankful and others coming first.
I don’t want to have to tell him about anything else ’cause telling Santa bad stuff, well that’s the worst!
I hope I can tell him how I see you pray; everyday for loved ones, each other and those who are hurting, for hope and for peace, for forgiveness and grace for everyone less fortunate all over the place.
I love the name Noodles, it is silly and fun and I like being here where there is always so much sun. I am so happy to be your true Christmas Elf and sit here watching upon this comfy shelf.
So remember don’t touch, be kind and BELIEVE because I am only here until Christmas Eve.
Noodles, your Elf on the Shelf
We discovered the new elf this morning and read
her his note. And I held my breath.
The real “Noodles” waiting to be discovered.
You should have seen the look on Nathan’s face when “Noodles” addressed his indiscretion directly. I almost felt bad, almost. Then when Noodles admitted that the first elf was not real, the tables turned and Nathan yelled out “SEE, I TOLL YOU – HE NOT REAL!” And then, miracle of miracles, when David approached the shelf (the top shelf this time) on the baker’s rack Nathan yells out “DAAAAAVID, DON’T TOUCH IIIIIT!” He bought it. He believes. And then David says, “I won’t, I know this one’s real he totally looks real, not like the other one.”
All this time, Sara is eyeballing me discretely, sensing my deception but thankfully not calling me on it. I didn’t even have to bribe her; because I would have.
I have no shame. I am a terrible person. But I have pulled it off. I have deceived my children for their own sake (at least two out of three) and I am victorious. The Elf on the Shelf tradition is established.
I have given Noodles permission to give a Sunday update here on my blog so you can see all of the mischief he gets into and if management is creative enough to keep the
web of decit magic alive.
Who me? Touch the elf? No way, I would never! Twice? You must be confusing me with someone else. (Soft ear-muffs for a boy who is sensitive to noises, in case you wondered if he was pretending to be Princess Leia).
By the way, I thought I would share that I was in Barnes and Nobel this morning and they had 462 Elves on the Shelves (or however you say the plural) and at least half of them were male. The boys were with me getting a treat after a doctor’s appointment and I found myself explaining why Barnes and Nobel had 462 of Santa’s special helpers in their store. Why are they all stacked up like that? Why doesn’t that one look like ours? Is it a boy? Is ours a … GIRL? How do you get them out of the box if you can’t touch them? Oh yeah, they don’t have their magic yet. Did ours come from the store or did it just show up? Did we have to pay for it or did Santa really send it to us? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Really, I do this to myself. I blame Lucy.