He barely made it here last year and this year, he's a no show so far. I've even checked the tree to see if he's become the ornament I predicted he'd be.
If he were to show up, he'd be a shadow of his former self, our elf. He has remnants of tape stuck to his back. The tip of his once perky hat is missing, having been sliced off in a costume mishap last year when I tried making him a bandit hat out of a black sock.
As I've said before, the early days of our elf's visits were fun. His appearances were just for my boys. Back in 2008, you could actually go spend a whole day in retails stores without seeing a wall of Elf on the Shelf and his/her accoutrements. He wasn't pinned. He wasn't hashtagged.
I've spent 120 days moving him around. I've been caught holding him. I've stuck him with pins and tape and glue. I've thought about our elf more than I've thought about where my kids might one day go to college.
I've invented story after story as to why our elf hasn't moved or why he cost thirty dollars at the store. I know the founders have a FAQ that provides plausible explanations for everything elf but as my kids have grown older and more mature, all the lies just don't add up. At some point, it's just wise to fess up and tell the truth, but as I've written before, does this then topple the Santa myth as well?
A part of me thinks the elf looks creepy. A part of me is just tired of moving him and hiding him and inventing funny things for him to do. Of the 120 times I've moved him, many have been repeats. Our elf had a shoe fetish, that's for sure. A part of me thinks I ought to have procured a generic elf at Michael's. But I bought into the packaging and this was before there was ever an Elf on the Shelf Christmas special on TV. I really love that box.
In the beginning, I did warn my boys our elf was watching them and reporting their behavior back to Santa. But eventually, I just did it because seeing my boys' reaction to my Elf of the Shelf staging just made me feel creative.
Look, kids! The elf toilet papered the Christmas tree!
See? I'm clever like that. Pin!
Over the last couple of years, I've wondered how we would end the Elf on the Shelf tradition. Some people write letters saying the Elf has moved onto another family. Others just tell the truth and confirm he isn't real. Or maybe we say he didn't come back because every single one of us touched him (which we did)! So far, our elf has just not come back. He didn't send an explanation and there has been no unveiling of the truth. He just vanished. Poof!
Then the neighbor boy (who's ten) came over, gushing about his magical elf and how he... he just floats as if by MAGIC! (Yep, flew right out of his home in mom's sock drawer.)
My boys looked over at me and questioned the wherabouts of our elf.
Then that old familiar feeling washed over me. Say the name "Elf on the Shelf" and I just become a person who lies. Plus, they caught me off-guard.
"Our Elf on the Shelf doesn't usually until Christmas eve," I offered, forgetting the details.
"Hello? Mom? Christmas Eve is when he returns to the North Pole," they corrected, their tween attitude shining through.
"I dunno," I stammered... should I fess up or continue spinning my web of lies? Since the neighbor boy is a believer, I decided to just buy myself some time, "I guess he's just late."
I know my boys don't believe in Elf on the Shelf. They know he's not real. They see him in stores, they add up my non-plausible explanations about everything elf and they figured it out.
What they want is to wake up and see him doing mischieous things, like "drinking" soda from a straw. I think they don't really care if he's real or not. They just want to see him do mischief.
So now I think I know how we're going to end this. If they ask about him once more, I'll confess and make this into a family game where we all take turns hiding him. If they don't ask again, well, I won't tell and the elf will just stay where he is ... at the North Pole, I mean ... at top of my closet, behind my scrapbook supplies.
How will your Elf on the Shelf story end?
This is an original post to Chalk and Cheese Chronicles.