by Kelly Ryan, LMSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator, Beaumont Parenting Program
Christmas is such a magical and fun time of year. Children’s imaginations are ripe as they think of Santa, the North Pole and the elves making toys for good girls and boys. In the past few years, elves have started to come out of the background and into the spotlight, one elf in particular, The Elf On The Shelf.
What started as an Atlanta family’s tradition, has now become a Christmas phenomenon. In 2005, Carol Aebersold wrote a children’s book along with her daughter Chanda Bell about the elf who would appear every year in their home at some point after Thanksgiving and travel to the North Pole each evening while the children slept to report to Santa.
Before the family awoke each morning, their elf had returned and hidden himself somewhere in their home. The mother daughter team says they wrote the book to encourage others to adopt the tradition in their families. Their book idea was rejected by all major publishers, but they were not deterred, instead, they founded their own publishing company in Marietta, GA. and put out the $30 book accompanied by a 10 –inch elf doll on their own. Reports stated that 2.5 million books with dolls had been sold at the end of last year; to say the idea has taken off is an understatement.
Families everywhere are having fun with these elves who, according to the story get their magic when the family gives their elf a special name. Once named this elf will become a part of the family’s Christmas each year, observing all of the day to day activity in the home and making reports back to Santa. There is one very important rule, the elf must NOT be touched, if touched he loses his magic and can no longer fly back to the North Pole.
Social media has become a huge outlet for families to share what their elf has been up to. There are blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and Instagram hashtags devoted to the comings and goings of these little spies.
My children are 5 and 7. Our elf, Markle, first arrived when our daughter was 3-years-old. The kids love waking each morning and looking for where Markle was hidden or what he has been up to. Sometimes he just moves from place to place, other times he is a little silly or makes a mess. In our house we choose to focus on the positive. Rather than threaten that Markle is going to report misbehavior to Santa, we emphasize that he is going to be sure to tell Santa about all of the good things they are doing at home such as getting along with one another, helping around the house, being kind and keeping their rooms picked up. On Christmas night Markle will return to the North Pole and won’t return until next year, I know I will miss the sound of little feet running to find him and the excitement in their voices when they tell us where he is. It has been a great addition to our family’s Christmas traditions.
Do you have an elf on your shelf? What are some of your holiday traditions?