Posts Tagged ‘ Santa Claus ’

To Elf, or Not to Elf? One Mom’s Holiday Dilemma

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Elf on the ShelfAn Elf on the Shelf arrived in my office mail the other day, along with a new sidekick: an “Elf Pets” reindeer. An accompanying press release beckoned me to “try a new family tradition.”

Now, I’m a sucker for family traditions—especially ones that center around the holidays. My kids get special ornaments for the Christmas tree every year, just as my sister and I did when we were kids. Presents (and not just those from Santa) are opened on Christmas morning, not Christmas Eve, just as they were in my house growing up. And of course, we leave out a plate of cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.

I’m also starting new traditions for my kids, like giving them advent calendars to count down the days, making homemade ornaments to give as gifts, and decorating gingerbread houses.

But so far, I’ve avoided the Elf. Sure, I see him on my friends’ Facebook feeds each holiday season and ALL. OVER. PINTEREST. He’s traversing the square footage of their homes and getting into all sorts of merry mischief. There’s an elf rolling down the stairs in a tube of toilet paper! There’s an elf sharing a sip of maple syrup with Barbie! There’s an elf diving stocking cap-first into a bag of holiday M&M’s! The ideas are beyond creative and cute—and that’s part of the problem: I’m not sure I have the energy to be that creative and cute when it comes to a toy elf, frankly. I know I’d be one of those parents who falls asleep on the couch and forgets to move the little guy. (On the other hand, the Internet is teeming with Elf on the Shelf ideas that take the work out of it for Elf slackers—as well as ideas for what to say when, yes, you fall asleep on the couch and forget to move the little guy). And a quick survey of my colleagues showed that of the ones who do have an Elf, most of them are pretty relaxed about it. “Our Elf doesn’t do crazy stunts or make a mess with food or decorations, but we do wake up to find him perched in a different spot every morning,” one said. (That’s her Elf in the photo, above.)

So what’s the problem? Part of it is the additional fibbing (er, storytelling)  involved. To quote one of my non-Elf-having colleagues, it “seems like yet another lie to perpetuate…” My kids are 8 and 3. One is on the cusp of not believing in Santa Claus anymore, while one is just starting to realize the magic of the jolly man in red. Unlike some of my mom friends, who are desperate for their older kids to figure it all out, I’m hoping mine believes a little while longer. So should I really add a new twist to the story at this point?

I vividly remember believing in that Santa magic as a child—being absolutely sure I could hear a sleigh on our snow-covered roof, and waking up to discover presents that hadn’t been under the tree when I went to sleep. I want my kids to experience that same sense of magic and wonder. Would adding an Elf on the Shelf and a reindeer sidekick enhance that? Maybe—and there’s a part of me that wants to give it a try. But there’s another part of me that thinks the Santa story, and all it entails, is enough.

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How to Make a Gumball Snowman Ornament
How to Make a Gumball Snowman Ornament
How to Make a Gumball Snowman Ornament

Image courtesy of M. Walker

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You’re Never “Too Old” to Believe in Santa Claus

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

A letter to my 11-year-old on the occasion of learning the truth about Santa Claus.

Dear son,

I knew something was wrong when, bored, annoyed, and visibly upset, you stomped away from the long department-store line we were standing in for Santa pictures. I’ll cop to a shameful bit of begging in a failed attempt to get you to change your mind. “But it’s with your sisters!” “This could be our holiday card!” Yet you held firm. “I’m too old, Mom.” And by some people’s standards, I suppose at age 11, you are too old, and have been to believe in this Santa business for some time.

I’m glad you told me later in your room, out of earshot of little believers, what was going through your mind while standing in that line: “Santa isn’t real,” you said, the disappointment spilling out with your words. And while I’d deflected your questions about the big guy in the past, with that ole standby, “What do you think?”, this time, we both knew the jig was up.

I know it’s a letdown.

And I hope you’ll be patient with me for feeling a little bittersweet.

I didn’t tell you the truth about Santa earlier because I wanted you to believe.

I didn’t tell you because I loved your childish abandonment of skepticism, and you have a whole lifetime to be cynical (though I advise against it). Childhood is too short to be robbed of any of the holiday magic that is as much its natural right as are balloons and lollipops and snow days.

I didn’t tell you because I’d selfishly miss all those innocent moments, from your backseat pronouncements about how hard the elves must be working right now, to reassuring you on Christmas Eve that our chimney flue is wide enough for Santa to shimmy his way down.

I didn’t tell you because I knew you’d eventually come to see the truth on your own.

And I hope that one day when you are a parent, you’ll be blessed with children who believe in Santa Claus, too, for as long as possible.

It was lovely believing with you.



Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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