This is Pete. Pete is our Elf on the Shelf. In case you have been living blissfully under a rock for the last few years, Elf on the Shelf’s are the must-have Christmas accessory for every kid in this country. When I first heard of the concept I thought it was the dumbest idea ever- some weird looking elf you have to pay a lot of money for sits in your house, staring at all of you, and then tattles on you to Santa? Yeah, no thanks; I wasn’t looking to up the creepiness factor of our family Christmases.
But of course, my daughter Lily, who was 4 years old at the time, learned about these Elves at preschool and thought it sounded just magical…ugh. She wanted one badly, as all of her friends were regaling her with stories about the crazy things “Sparkles” or “Jingles” or “(insert other cutesy, annoying Elf name here)” were up to each night at their homes. And, not wanting to her to be left out, we became the proud (but mostly reluctant) owners of Pete the Elf (yeah, no gag inducing, lame name for our Elf- I vetoed that noise immediately). I also refused to teach my kids that Pete was some “Santa Snitch” who creepily spied on them by day and tattled on them by night; this is supposed to be fun, amiright? So I told the kids that Pete is just a friend to hang out with us around Christmastime as a gift from Santa, and he goes back to North Pole at night because he has to work. Judge me all you want to, but I still think that is a way better story. Oh, they aren’t allowed to touch him because they will ruin his magic- I did keep that part, mostly so they didn’t carry him around and lose him (these Elves aren’t cheap). The exception is on Christmas Eve when I let them play with him all they want because “he doesn’t need his magic to get home that night, he rides back with Santa”. In short, I’m great at making up crap that my kids will believe.
Now I must admit, the whole posing the Elf thing was actually pretty fun in the beginning. My husband and I got really creative, looking to find delightful, but not too messy, things for Pete to “do” each night (side note: I don’t get the parents that have their Elf making giant messes each night- you know you are the one who has to clean all that crap up, right?) It was entertaining to dream up new hijinks for good ole Pete each night, and the kids were over the moon. But as time went on, the fun level started to go down and it started to feel like an annoying chore. I have to wait up for both kids to get to sleep- no easy task since our 5 year old son has child insomnia (or something, we don’t know) and is a total beast to get to sleep at night. By the end of our month with Pete each year his hiding places get more and more boring, and I’m ready for the damned thing to go back to Santa, which of course isn’t until Christmas Eve. Even the kids seem a little bit “over” Pete by Christmas; at the beginning of the month they can’t wait to find him each morning; towards the end of his stay they start to forget to even look for him. Yet my daughter still cries huge tears every Christmas Eve, sobbing and writing goodbye letters to Pete, begging him not to go back to the North Pole. Yeah…how vicious do I feel as I put that Elf away in the storage room after watching that whole scene go down? It’s probably why I drink so heavily on Christmas Eve.
So, although I do think it’s sort of fun and I did rid our lives of the creepy back story of the Elf on the Shelf, it’s also a pain in the ass that sometimes I’m sorry I ever started in the first place. I forget to even move the damned thing on many nights- including the very first night he “showed up” this year, and I had to frantically throw Pete into the Christmas tree the next morning in an attempt to make it look he hid himself there, barely missing getting caught. They were less than impressed with finding him hanging sideways from the tree, not doing anything remotely interesting. Which annoyed me because, hey, I have to pose this dude almost 30 times this month, they can’t all be winners. But then again, it just wouldn’t be the holidays if I weren’t annoyed about something.