12 Ways to Lose Your Mind this Christmas—#7

#7. Get yourself The Elf on the Shelf. Yeah I know. I wrote a blog a few years ago about Why I Love That Creepy Little Elf on the Shelf. I was even a guest on some random Canadian radio station, singing the praises of the elf and telling everyone why they needed an elf in their house. And it was all true. I did love the elf (at the time). It was a fun tradition that we had in our house, but let me tell you, I am soooo glad that we don’t have to really deal with the Elf any more. Sure, he’s still around—I think he’s hanging from the mistletoe today—but there is absolutely no pressure whatsoever to move him. Or create an elaborate scenario for him to act out like Elfie has a snowball fight with Barbie, or Elfie is ziplining across the living room, or Elfie drank too much eggnog and is throwing up in the sink…you know, normal things like that. I don’t leap out of bed at 6 am with the sinking feeling I forgot to move the elf and wondering oh my god why are the kids up so early? I also don’t have to wait until my kids go to bed, yawning and rubbing my eyes, just so I can move aforementioned elf.

I laugh at the elf antics posted on Facebook and I feel sorry for the parents who have kids that are still elf age. Because as fun as it was, there was a lot of stress associated with that elf. And it seems so much more difficult now than it was even three or four years ago—the elves are going crazy lately. Not only are they showing up as early as Thanksgiving (5 weeks of elf hiding spots? Are you kidding me??? I could barely handle 2 weeks!), all of a sudden, the elves bring gifts and promises and notes regarding behavior, making the whole elf process way more complicated than it ever was for us. And there’s no way to prevent your kid from knowing what’s going on with other elves and feeling the pressure to keep up. Not only are other moms and dads posting their elf’s antics, the kids are posting to their own social media accounts. Kids are coming home and saying “Jenny’s elf brought her a bicycle and a Nintendo Switch today, why doesn’t my elf ever bring me anything?”

Don’t get me wrong—the elf really helped the kids get in the holiday spirit and it was a cool tradition to have, one we didn’t have growing up. It was priceless watching the kids try to find the elf in the morning…even when I knew they didn’t believe in his magic anymore. It was fun dressing him up in a motorcycle jacket and hiding him in the freezer. It was fun getting hubby to laugh when I had the elf working out in the basement. But like everything else associated with Christmas, it became too much. Just an added stressor at a time when my patience was already stretched thin and I was full of holiday frustration. Like all things with kids, it was a stage that went by quickly…one minute, a stuffed doll was able to keep my kids in line before Christmas, and seemingly the next, they don’t care about Santa…or even presents. They just care about money. Give me cash, they say when asked what they want for Christmas and birthdays now. It makes me a little weepy to think they grew up so fast, to think my days of hiding gifts and assembling Barbie houses at 2 am on Christmas morning have gone away. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have older kids because the stress of keeping the magic of Christmas isn’t looming over my head like a black cloud. We don’t have to mail letters to Santa or drive ourselves nuts trying to find that one gift they asked Santa for. There’s no waiting till they go to bed to drag gifts out of the basement from behind the furnace. We don’t need to read the Night Before Christmas or even put out cookies for Santa (we do anyway…I like cookies). It’s liberating and disheartening at the same time.

So ladies and gentlemen, make sure you move your elf for your little ones tonight…but don’t stress over it because that’s not worth your time. What’s worth your time is the joy it brings your kids. Enjoy it while it lasts…it doesn’t last forever.

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