How The Elf on the Shelf Changed Our Christmas

2012 was our first year of allowing Santa into our Christmas celebrations.
And it was all because of that cute little Elf in the red hat.

If I have read one, I’ve read 10 negative articles about The Elf on the Shelf this year. I mean, what gives? Is it just that we’ve decided that we don’t like something, no one should? Some of the articles ARE funny and I can understand that, really I can. But the motivation behind disliking someone else’s choice to use an Elf on the Shelf is just so…petty…silly…useless. Even before I became an Elf Fan, I would never tell someone else how awful they were for doing it…and certainly not spend time criticizing that they do it too well. Gracious, people!

I grew up celebrating a Santa-heavy Christmas. And I won’t go into all those details right now. I’ll simply say that my feelings about that led me to be very anti-Santa for many, many years.  I feared allowing Santa into our Christmas would make it all about Santa. I feared my own ability to continue to make Christmas about the birth of Christ and celebrating the aspects of it important to me; giving, family and God’s love if I involved Santa.

Last year I watched so many of my friends introduce (for some, reintroduce, as it was their second or third year) the Elf on the Shelf to their kids.  At first, I saw some of the things I don’t like about Santa in it: the Elf “tattles” on you to Santa…he watches you and then runs home to tell Santa if you’re “naughty.”  I’m a big un-fan of that, people.  Are we sharing God’s grace with our kids? Are we giving them Jesus as a FREE gift, where their only obligation is to accept him and believe him? Or are we giving them a list of goods and bads and dos and don’ts to live by? Santa giving gifts only for those who are good smacks of God only loving those who do everything right. And that’s no one.
Not only that but how many people actually withhold Christmas gifts for the days their kids are naughty? I’m going to guess none.  This is a big parenting no-no….either follow through or don’t threaten it, else you lose your credibility.  So does Santa. And by default and association, so can God Almighty. And what you’ve got here is a big deal, all wrapped up in Santa and presents and behavior and suddenly the fact that this day was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth is lost.

But I saw some people using the Elf differently. I started to watch them and read their elf letters and noticed that their Elves didn’t pass judgement or tattle.  Instead their Elves did funny things, they caused mischief and mayham.  They made the kids believe in magic and laugh. A lot.  They became an outlet for creativity. They added to the fun part of Christmas without taking away from it’s real meaning. In fact, many of them used the Elf as a way to constantly remind their kids TO focus on Jesus and on God’s word about His redemption and birth.

So last year, after Adam had written several letters to Santa (who we then had never included in our Christmas) asking for an Elf, we gave in about a week or so before Christmas. We got an Elf.  Peppermint.  He did some silly things last year, which I didn’t plan or document well.  But they loved him.  They met Santa at the mall like tons of their peers. Santa brought the kids a swing set, already set up in the backyard, for Christmas 2012.  They were a little confused about it to be honest, having never seen Santa movies or heard Santa songs. But we gave it a shot. And Christmas was great. I didn’t feel like they lost out on the real meaning of Christmas.

This year, Peppermint came just after Thanksgiving.  His visit was very well planned and prepared for, having followed some good advice and made a calendar and list of needed items (which were bought and/or organized before his first day back).  There were a couple days with the craziness of the month that I couldn’t follow through with Pepp but on those days, Greg came through and figured things out.  And I’m just going to say it: be an Elf naysayer if you want to…but the darn Elf on the Shelf is fun.  He is pure, silly, exciting FUN.

This year, Santa brought the kids each a gift in the house and filled their stockings (and our’s).  Fortunately they had told every Santa they saw this year the same gift, over and over. So they each got that one thing they asked him for, over and over. That worked out nicely.  Santa left their gifts on top of their new Lego table I made them which worked out nicely too. They understood a bit better, having watched some Christmas movies this year that gave explainations of Santa (including some of my favorites, The Santa Clause & it’s sequel). Santa, once again, didn’t subtract from our Christmas but added to it.  I’m still very careful about my wording and we will take each year as it comes and adjust with ages as needed. But for now, I’m so glad we have Pepp and I’m glad for the way he changed our minds and our Christmas spirit.

Here’s our a few of our favorite Peppermint adventures this year:

IMG_4868Lily’s Favorite: Pepp drew funny faces on their pictures

IMG_5333

Noah’s Favorite is the picture above AND below: Peppermint painted Rudolph noses on them while they slept. They wore their noses all the next day, even out and about, until bedtime.

IMG_5328

IMG_5138Seth said he had too many favorites but he really liked Pepp’s zipline

IMG_5340Adam’s favorite was the Elf-Sized Pancakes Peppermint made for them

IMG_5094Mommy’s favorite was the day Pepp took all our stockings down and hung up our undies instead.  Yes, I know, it’s not very classy.  But it was funny and their reactions were priceless.

IMG_5180Dad’s favorite was the Christmas Parade with Barbie that Peppermint made. It look a long time.

IMG_5169We all loved when Pepp left instructions on how to grow magic candy canes!

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