Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Elf on the Shelf

Thirty years ago an elf made an appearance at our house. He didn't look quite as fresh and new as this one. Especially as the years went by. Playing with two young boys tends to take a toll on an elf. But, even with all the abuse he took,  he was an annual visitor to our home.

Elf generally made his appearance on December 1st.  All of a sudden, he would just appear somewhere in the house.  We've never had a fireplace, so we knew he didn't come down the chimney,  We lived in  small towns and didn't lock the doors much, so I suppose he could have gotten in that way.  However he got in, his arrival was always an annual event.

Elf would spend the month with us, making sure the boys behaved themselves in those crucial days before Christmas.  It was hard to keep track of him because he moved about the house at will. Sometimes he showed up in the playroom to watch the boys at play. Other times he sat in a kitchen window sill to make sure they ate all their supper.  He liked to watch over them at night, so many times he slept in their room.

If the boys had an argument or didn't pick up toys, and sometimes when they were really good,  Elf would disappear for awhile. Never for long, and he always came back, taking up his station on a shelf somewhere in the house.  He liked to come down and play once in awhile, but the older the boys got, the less Elf got to play with them.

Soon, he just sat on a shelf.

Elf continued to make occasional appearances in our house for a few years after the boys were grown and gone. I think he was lonely and bored.  There wasn't much to do without two young boys in the house. And finally, one year, he just didn't show up on the first of December.

I see all the "Elf on the Shelf" books and toys for sale now.  He even has his own Christmas special now.  The Elf is everywhere.   Good for him. Success comes for those who wait....

But somehow, I miss the years when he was just ours.


  1. A family elf. Sweet yet a little bit sad story.
    Our elves are very shy and never show themselves. They are generous. They bring a little gift (candy, chewing gum, stickers) to children every night.

  2. Deb,
    Very cool the way you weave this memory between then and now. I love your last line. Perfect.

  3. It's certainly a bittersweet moment when you realize that something is no longer going to work for the children, who happen to be growing up, right before your eyes, but still... It's a wonderfully written memory to capture in words. Your children will love it too, I bet. I liked the paragraph "Elf continued to make occasional appearances..." but had a little tear for it too.

  4. What a perfect little slice! I just realized all the rage with this elf on a shelf like last week! The idea behind it is so clear now that I read how your elf watched over the boys. Love your ending as well . . . success comes for those who wait. (But why didn't YOU think of it???)

    As always, thanks for sharing!

  5. What a wonderful story! I never knew of the power of the elf until my granddaughter explained it to me. Your elf seems like it was a very wise elf.

  6. Michelle--I don;t know why I didn't think of it! I could retire if I had!

  7. Thanks for sharing your special memory -- I loved how you included the elf's feelings and point of view. How funny that you did it before it was popular! Visiting elves are abundant lately where I live, but I hadn't heard of them until a few years ago when I started teaching.

  8. I just get the impression growing up in your house was as magical as it would be to sit in your classroom. I am sure your elf was much more special than the commercial versions of current times.

    This story has a Puff the Magic Dragon feel to it. Warm, fuzzy, and tearful all at the same time!

  9. What a lovely slice. I love the idea of your Elf moving from place to place in the house to keep tabs on the boys. I agree with Christy: growing up in your house must have been quite fun. What lucky boys!

  10. I loved reading about your elf on the shelf. Our elf has been with us since my oldest was born. The boys anticipate Fizzbee's visit every year and search the house to find him in his new hiding place. I loved hearing about how long you have had yours. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Loved your opening paragraph about your elf not looking as fresh as the one in the picture. And your last paragraph made me sad. Do your grandkids know about the elf. As always, your sentences melt into one another. :)