Okay, I will sound about as Christmas-spirited as Ebenezer Scrooge collecting a mortgage from a poor little old lady, but I have about had it with the Elf on the Shelf. I go around the house mumbling to myself, and I have actually contemplated the Elf’s demise in various forms of torture that would have provided me with great joy.
I thought about saying, “Oops, I dropped it in the garbage disposal” or “I don’t know how his legs got caught in the shredder.” But these little ploys seemed too disingenuous, and no doubt my kids would see through them quickly. Then I thought, “Hey, you’re a writer; think like one.” I have written a story or two about the perfect murder, but then I remembered those guys got caught in the end, so that was no good either.
Then I started thinking about the “Elf Rules.” Those of you without children are no doubt blissfully unaware of the Elf or that he is accompanied by rules of engagement as it were. These rules are in themselves designed to thrill kids and be every parent’s worst nightmare. They are as follows (you can find them and more info on the little pest’s web site):
“There are two simple rules that every child knows when it comes to having an elf. First, an elf cannot be touched; Christmas magic is very fragile and if an elf is touched it may lose that magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. Second, an elf cannot speak or move while anyone in the house is awake! An elf’s job is to watch and listen.”
So each night the kiddies go to bed and I must devise a new hiding place for Sir Elf. “Oh, that sounds easy” you are probably saying or “What’s so hard about that?” Well, try being the designated Elf hider and say, around three o’clock in the morning, you wake up and realize you forgot to hide the damn thing.
I can count at least six nights in December that this happened to me. Picture me flashlight in hand trying to think of a new hiding place in the dark. Stubbing toes and stepping on Legos are part of the punishment derived from my forgetfulness, not to mention not being able to get back to sleep afterwards. Of course, even gentle Bob Cratchit would be saying “Bah, Humbug!” by now.
That does not mean to say that I haven’t devised some good hiding places: the curtains, the refrigerator, the freezer (his cheeks change color in there overnight), the pantry, medicine cabinet, showerhead, and on top of a ceiling fan blade. I do start running out of ideas, and the refrain of “Dad, that was too easy” only makes me want to get rid of him more.
I looked at the rules again and thought, “Maybe I can make them work in my favor.” I devised a plan in which I could use rule one (an Elf cannot be touched) to my advantage. If one of the kids could be made to touch it, the little bugger would lose his magic and that would mean he couldn’t hide himself anymore. I would be free of the nightly ordeal, finally free of the Elf that is a pain in my posterior.
The next morning my five year old woke with the Elf in bed next to him on the pillow. I hoped to see him running out of the room clutching the Elf, and then I would lower the boom saying, “You touched him! He lost his magic! Etcetera, etcetera!” in my worst Yul Brynner impersonation ever.
But, alas, my son is a quick thinker. He screamed, “Dad! Dad, come quick!” I went into his room and he was sitting on his knees on the bed pointing to the Elf. “Look what’s here!”
“Did you touch it?” I asked.
He put his hands on his hips and looked at me like my mother used to do when I did something wrong. He said, “Are you serious? You can’t touch the Elf!”
I slinked out of the room and down the stairs in defeat. He went off to school and I sat drinking a cup of coffee and staring at the Elf’s pixie face. I had to admit that the kids enjoyed the game, and I do know that their smiling faces and laughter each time they found the little pest was probably worth it.
Grudgingly, I hid the little guy again last night. At this moment he is hiding behind a picture frame on the mantel, his little red hat barely visible. They will find it sooner or later as they search the living room this morning. When they do they will scream with delight, and then I will be off the hook until tonight.
There are only a few more days until Christmas, and then, mercifully, the Elf on the Shelf game will be over. The Elf will be put in the dark attic safely out of the way until next year. When I do have to go up there for something throughout the year, sometimes I can swear I hear a little squeal of the little guy laughing at me, but it’s probably just my imagination.
Photo credits: theelfontheshelf.com