Well, fellow Dads, the festive time is well amongst us, and for many of us, that means four words that should send a shudder through each and every one of you.
There, I said it. I can feel the dread start to set in.
It’s a bizarre concept, I have to admit. Mind you, all the rituals we go through with our kids could be lumped in the same basket, when you take a step back and think about it.
A bunny rabbit that amps your kids’ sugar levels to 11, giving away copious amounts of chocolate eggs.
A fairy that replaces dirty expired teeth with your hard-earned cash.
A portly bloke who completely spoils your kids with way too many presents on the day of all days.
Old mate elfie, though, that is probably the most bizarre of them all and, from my experience, a relatively new phenomenon. I certainly don’t remember an elf traipsing around my house when I was a kid.
For the uninitiated amongst you, the concept is pretty simple.
On December 1, the elf appears on your Christmas tree. For 24 agonising days, your elf moves around the house each night, eventually ending up back on the tree on the night of December 24.
On Christmas Day, the presents appear and bingo bango, the elf has been banished for another year. That is if you remember where he got banished to? (the old “wherein the bloody hell did I hide the elf” scenario).
Now, before I expand on why the elf created so much drama for us parents each and every Christmas, there is one thing I will admit is pretty awesome about the whole experience, and that is the bargaining power it possesses.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the elf to encourage better behaviour. You see, the elf reports back to Santa each night, an almost Big Brother type scenario where every move your kid makes is “being watched and noted” by the elf.
I’m not even joking, day one of the elf this year had me utter the immortal phrase, “did you see that elfie? Are you going to tell Santa what just happened?”
My kids pulled back into line with impressive speed.
Now, before I get accused of being too “bah, humbug” about the whole elf scenario, I will admit this.
I love that my kids get so excited about his appearance each and every year. With my oldest being 12 years old, this could very well be the last year of the elf in our house, so I should embrace him and all the magic he brings to our house each morning in December as we hurtle towards Christmas.
But… and here’s the kicker. Said excitement means that every morning, my kids are up at “sparrows”, looking for where the elf has moved to. This means that, if you get up with your kids, you’re losing around 2 hours of sleep in the morning.
TWO HOURS OF PRECIOUS SLEEP! Not great when you’re in the midst of “celebrating” the many festive events that you attend in the lead-up to Christmas.
Speaking of which, that’s the other issue at play here.
Not only are you under pressure to find a decent spot for the elf to “magically appear” for the next morning, you’ve got to actually have your wits about you to remember to move the bloody thing.
Not as easy as it sounds when you’ve come home from a Christmas party with a few drinks under the belt.
There’s nothing more awkward than your kids finding that the elf hasn’t moved from the day before… “he must have slept through the night kids?”.
“Silly elfie, he must have got confused from all the activity in the night”
“Now elfie, if you don’t move tonight, I’m going to have to tell Santa on you.”
I’m so indoctrinated in the elf process now that I routinely wake up in a cold sweat around 2 in the morning, double-checking that the elf has in fact been moved for the night.
That’s the pressure at play here, fellow parents.
Did I mention “pressure”? How’s about the 5 or 6 friends on your social feed who literally take it the next level with the elf. We’re talking props, sets, lights, camera, action. You could argue that it all goes a bit too far, but hey, who am I to judge?
I guess my point of this whole rant about the elf is this.
For all the magic and excitement that an elf on the shelf can bring to your household, get ready for the commitment of the nightly move. The creative takes on where and how the elfie ends up next and always, ALWAYS, have a story ready should the elf “forget” to move one night.
And for elf’s sake, make a note of where elfie gets hidden once Christmas is over. You’ll be grateful for the thought in a year’s time.