All the Grape's friends have had personal stuffed elves for years. I figured we'd missed the window when we failed to jump on the
But then the Grape stopped buying my assertions that Santa's tiny agents of espionage were:
b) all the time, and
c) way too fast for children's eyes.
He told me he "didn't care if Santa's elves could see and hear him or not."
R. and I had to take drastic action to re-assert control over the deteriorating situation.
Our Elf appeared, swinging from a chandelier in the Grape's room, while we visited relatives in Connecticut over Thanksgiving.
"Magic!" the Grape gasped, before declaring the thing scary.
He tearfully demanded it be banished from his room.
I excused myself to the bathroom for a brief moment of near hyper ventilation.
I know dozens, if not hundreds, of little kids. I've heard precisely zero reports of objections to the appearance of an Elf on the Shelf.
Our Elf held its ground, as did R. and I.
I paid fifteen bucks for that thing. Besides, R. and I had high hopes its presence would inspire angelic behavior.
There was no way we were going to allow the Grape to put the kibosh on the game. At least not at the get go.
Then another worry struck.
Is my five-year-old gullible enough to believe the Elf (from which, in our haste to exit the house in the predawn hours of Thanksgiving, we'd neglected to remove the tags) has powers?
Yes and no.
The Grape absolutely believes in Santa.
As for his silly little stuffed helper: I can't figure out if the Grape believes, wants to believe because his friends do (or pretend to), or whether he wants to hedge his bets, on the time honored theory that Those Who Believe Will Get More.
Whatever the reason, he seems to have faith in a cheaply made-in-China toy that stirs lust in the eyes of Lucy the Cat and Lila the Dog alike.
Due to this sky-high level of four-legged interest, our Elf prefers a little altitude.
If R. and I leave him below six feet, he'll be shredded in seconds, his magic demolished in a drool soaked trail of red felt and white poly-fill.
He'd stand a better chance in the blender than between Lila's teeth.
The other issue with our newest holiday tradition is that R. and I stink at remembering to move the elf.
And whoever started this thing decreed, Thou shalt move thy Elf every night to keep alive its magic.
(For the uninitiated, the story goes that the Elf magically flies home to relay the behavior report and any new wishes to Santa every night. He's supposed to return to clock in for the morning shift before his charge wakes.)
So far we are ten days in.
On the fourth night, I woke in a cold sweat at 2 a.m. yelling, "We need to move the elf!"
R. and I have each nearly broken our necks at least once, whilst jamming downstairs ahead of the Grape, in order to relocate the thing before dawn.
Because of our negligence, the Elf scoots back and forth along the top of the kitchen cabinets a lot.
The Grape thinks it's because he can see the entire downstairs from up there. Whatever you say, kid.
The Grape wants to believe, and despite my past disdain for the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon, I've realized it's all good.
Childhood is short enough. If some of the magic of the holidays comes in the form of a flimsy, mass produced, smirking plaything, we'll take it.
As long as we can keep it out of the dog's jaws.