The “Great Debate” – Elf or No Elf? Our family falls into the former category.
Our elf, Martin, was given to us when I was pregnant with our first child. While it wasn’t until our son’s fourth Christmas that he was able to fully understand the “elf concept,” once we started, there was definitely no turning back! Now in our sixth season, I’m so happy that we’ve continued this tradition. Here’s why we love our Elf on a Shelf:
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? Yes, I use a little toy elf to get my kids to behave between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I’m not proud of it, but it’s a proven fact that they will behave for a funny-looking elf with shifty eyes because they think he’s reporting to Santa every single night. If I were to say that I’m telling Santa they are misbehaving, I’d get the “yeah right whatever, Mom” look from my kids. But Martin wields more power than Mom.
Either way, it’s one month out of the year when I actually have some leverage.
Nothing gets kids moving in the morning like a race to see who can find the elf first. During this magical 30-day window, my typically slow-moving boys are out of bed and getting dressed like it’s an Olympic sport. They race downstairs and start searching for Martin. Granted, the time they save getting dressed is shifted to the “elf hunt,” but they are definitely more cheerful in the mornings before school!
It’s Fun (really!)
My husband and I actually enjoy moving the elf every night. He’s more creative, but I’m the sneaky one who puts the elf in a hard-to-find place. We like the friendly competition of trying to outdo each other, and see who can be more clever.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when we forgot to move the blessed elf. There are nights when we’re doing rock-paper-scissors to see who is getting out of bed to go down and put Martin in a new spot or mornings when one of us has to race downstairs before the kids are dressed to reposition him. But that just adds to the excitement!
Military families move a lot, so our kids might be concerned about whether Santa got our change of address (I’m willing to bet he’s more organized than the post office though!). This was the case when we moved overseas three years ago. My boys were worried that Santa would never find our new house in Belgium. Even though I kept reassuring them that “Santa knows everything,” they weren’t 100% convinced. So, imagine their delight when Martin showed up the weekend after Thanksgiving! Whew! Santa would find us for sure!
Confession: We couldn’t find Martin after the overseas move (shocking, I know), so I drove an hour round-trip to the PX just to buy a new elf. There was definitely a moment when I considered scrapping the whole thing, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Their little smiles made it all worth it! It may seem like a silly and time-consuming tradition, but for military kids it can give some stability to new surroundings … especially when you’ve moved far from “home.”
The Days Are Long but the Years are Short
I know it seems like a huge pain in the backside to move an elf every night for a month, but when you think about it, these years go by in the blink of an eye. Children are at least 2 or 3 years old before they truly “get” Santa and then before you know it, you’re fielding questions from your 8 year-old about whether Santa is real. This might be the last year that my oldest son believes in Santa and in Martin the Elf. Maybe we’ll get another year or two. It’s hard to know, so I’m going to enjoy every single night of moving “that darn elf” because this year could be the last.