Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our Elf Infestation

I adore the magic of Christmas, but I have never been a fan of the Elf on the Shelf. As a mother, the last thing I need is one more thing to do EVERY night in December.  As an elementary teacher, trying to explain why one child's elf baked a cake, wrote the child's name in frosting on the wall, and left a new Easy Bake oven to another child whose elf hasn't moved in a week is especially frustrating.

You better not cry!

The elf was responsible for my darkest moment as a teacher.  Every teacher has that moment they wish they could take back. The moment when you cracked for just a second. After listening to the antics of her classmates' elves, one of my students announced her mother was going to buy her an elf that afternoon.  The other children immediately informed her that the elves don't come from the store. The magical ones come from Santa and just show up at your house. She starting crying and she continued to cry. And cry. And cry. Nothing I did to console her seemed to work. Finally, I snapped. I blurted, "Honey, they ALL COME FROM A STORE!" As soon as it came out of my mouth, I winced. As the tears stopped and she blinked a few times in surprise, I attempted damage control by asking her to please not share that information with her classmates. I would have felt worse about it, but this child's mother is a busy professional. The child is the youngest with several adult siblings. I never admitted my slip, but quite frankly I think I did the mother a favor.

You better not pout!

So among my friends and fellow teachers, my disdain for the elf has become common knowledge. I think they find it amusing because I love almost everything else that brings magic and wonder to children's lives. I never caved and bought one for my own children. By the time the elves became popular in our area, my son was already too old to buy in and I figured my daughter had one or two Christmases at most. I stood firm.

You can imagine my surprise when I woke up Saturday morning to find an elf in my kitchen windowsill with a sign. I assure you I didn't put it there. Everyone in my family vehemently denied any involvement. The next morning I awoke to see that it had moved into my bathroom. When I walked into the kitchen I realized it hadn't moved. The one in the kitchen was still there. There were now two elves. On Monday morning, two more had shown up. I couldn't decide if it was sweet or creepy. I found myself going to bed last night with four elves in our home wondering if more would show up or if they would move.  I had to admit that I enjoyed the wonder of it all. My dislike for the elves was all very practical, but nothing about the Christmas season is practical. Bringing trees into our home to decorate, hanging stockings for a jolly, chubby stranger to come fill, all the way back to the very first Christmas when Christ the King was born in an old barn and laid in a feed trough, none of it makes any practical sense and that is why it is all so beautiful and magical. In my rush to keep the Christmas wonder alive for my students and children, I had forgotten how wonderful it feels to be a recipient of that magic.

I'm telling you why...

And then it definitely got creepy. Two more elves showed up this morning with a more ominous note.  Just when I was beginning to have a soft spot for the little guys. Oh well, perhaps they are still angry at me for spilling the beans to my student. We have three more days until Christmas. It is anyone's guess how many more will show up by then. I suppose if this turns out to be my last blog post, please let the police know that the suspects are a foot tall and dressed in red. Merry Christmas to all!


12/26/2015 UPDATE:

"You didn't believe..."

For the next three days, the elves continued to multiply in our home.  Each morning there were two more elves with a note. Clearly the elves were unhappy that I had been so vocal in my disdain for them. The elf in our tree on Christmas Eve morning was particularly disturbing. Yes, that is a toy gun he is holding.  

"...said we came from the STORE!"

At the Christmas Eve service, I asked a few children when and how their elves disappear after Christmas. I was assured they go back to the North Pole with Santa when he visits. The first person to wake up in our home on Christmas morning, I was relieved to find all of the elves gone. The last gift I opened was large and round. As I tore off the paper, I realized it was an old hat box. I lifted the lid and found all of the elves soaking in a fake snow filled "hot tub." The note included was addressed to Amy Sellars "elf hater." 


All along I had suspected my friend, Kim, was involved. Turns out she had a great deal of co-conspirators, including my husband, children, friends and co-workers. Apparently almost everyone I know is extremely good at lying.  It is frightening how convincing I found everyone, especially my twelve year daughter. At some point, in the craziness of the last day before Christmas the teachers in my school had sent all of the classroom elves home with her. It really was a brilliant plan.  

My children are twelve and fifteen and Christmas can lose a bit of its sparkle by that age.  The prank certainly added some fun and magic to our week. Well, you know what they say about payback, but it might take me awhile to come up with a plan. Perhaps I'll hold the classroom elves hostage and demand a ransom.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and have a fantastic New Year full of joy and laughter!