Friday, December 11, 2009

Elf on the Shelf

Last year we were turned on to this great Christmas tradition called "Elf on the Shelf." It's a story book and an Elf figure that you place in a different location around the house each day before Christmas (presumably not all year long, just like after Thanksgiving, I guess). The story of the Elf is that he (or she, since you can buy a skirt for your elf) comes from the North Pole, directed by Santa Claus to watch all the little boys and girls while Santa is hard at work making toys. Each night the Elf returns north to report to Santa how the kids are behaving, then returns to your home in a different spot for the next day.

The purpose of this, besides a sweet new Christmas tradition for the family, is to try and keep kids behaving during a stressful time of year. The children are also instructed not to touch the Elf or his "magic" will wear off and he won't be able to tell Santa how good the child has been, possibly negating Santa's visit on the 25th. To make the Elf more personable, the Elf should be named and you can even register the elf's name on the Elf on the Shelf web site.

The web site, by the way, is great, especially if you have Flash software on your computer (Who doesn't nowadays? You? Oh, then download here), and looks like those old-time Christmas shows created with stop animation, like the one about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman. There's a lot to enjoy on the site for kids and parents alike.

Our son can't yet comprehend the reason for the Elf in our house but he picked up on the Elf itself rather quickly. For about a week now we've been moving him around the house and asking him "Where's the Elf?" Our son immediately starts looking around the room for the Elf, glancing in the spots he remembers seeing the Elf previously. It's amazing how fast he picked up on it and that he looks in those previous spots for his new friend. We tell him not to touch the elf, and I make sure to set the Elf out of grabbing height. Our son does, however, "wave" to the Elf, though since he's still learning to wave properly, I can't tell if he's really waving or reaching out to grab the thing.

We sent it to our friends Carrie and Steve for their son last year, and he immediately named the Elf "Elfie" and loved searching the house for it before school. This year we sent Elf on the Shelf to our god son Dominik. His mom thinks the Elf will help her keep little D on the "nice" list more than just the threat of Santa not coming because he's been "naughty." I'm sure we will be sending this gift to other families as time goes on, too. This sort of tradition is something that feels a less fabricated, I guess because I never knew about it before last year, and thus didn't think it was overhyped or mass-marketed. Obviously the day will come when the Elf will become passé as our children get older, but I like that this is something that can be kept within the family and passed on to the next generation.

Note: I am NOT getting paid to advertise/endorse this product. But, hey, if the makers want to toss me a couple bucks my address is...

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