Monday, December 10, 2012
Elf On The Shelf - A 40-Year Tradition
The first time I went home with Kevin for Christmas was in 2006. It was then I learned that his family had a cute tradition where two elves, one green (Jill Pixie) and one red (Humphrey), came out as part of a long standing family tradition. When Kevin was a kid, he and his sister would run out to look for Santa's helpers to see where they had moved in the house, as they were always in a new location each day. The rule was that you couldn't touch them because it would ruin their magic and that the elves were Santa's representatives from the North Pole.
You may read this and go, "Duh. Elf on the Shelf. Everyone does it." But were you doing Elf On The Shelf in 2006? Or in the 70's or 80's when you were a kid? Chances are that you were not. It wasn't until about three years ago that Elf On The Shelf was becoming mass-produced. But thank goodness that it is because before Keagan was born, I was wondering where on earth we were going to get two elves. My nieces have elves and believe in their magic and we wanted to keep the tradition going in our family as well. Humphrey, on the right, is your run-of-the-mill Elf On The Shelf product. But Jill Pixie, on the left, is pure vintage. I bought her on Etsy after doing some Googling on Japanese Christmas Elves, learning that this was a big tradition in the 1960's.
I'm glad to know that I can find other elves out there because Kevin told me a horror story about one of their elves that got too close to a lamp lightbulb when he was a kid. Remember that scene in the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the bad guy's face melts off? Note to parents: don't place your elf near a lightbulb unless you want to explain elf hospitals to your child.
I laugh at all the funny things that people are doing with their elves and I wish I had the time to dream up new scenarios for the elves to recreate (see The Little Style File for some great examples). We are lucky if we remember to move them each night.
This is about as creative as it gets in our house. But it is just enough to cause a 23-month old face to light up. "Humphrey! Flying!" he exclaims as he points up to the ceiling. This morning, when he spotted Humphrey and Jill Pixie swinging from some of our mantle decorations, he stared at them and shouted, "Move! Mooooove!" He is already bossing his elves around.
We haven't used the elves as a "you better be good or they will tell Santa" type of tool. Melissa at Dear Baby has a really great post about introducing the elf to her kids and deciding whether the elf is creepy or cute (in my opinion: looks = creepy. Tradition = cute). For us, it's not about behavior manipulation, but rather it's more about enhancing the magic of the holidays. And with this new tradition, so far, so good.