I want to have a very serious conversation with y’all today, friends. I want to talk about something that I HATE with the passion of 10,000 blazing suns. Something that is, for all intents and purposes, supposed to bring joy to the hearts of children everywhere. A newfound holiday tradition that should be yet another joyous addition to add to our Christmas repertoire. But I hate it. And I’m going to go ahead and go out a limb and say that parents everywhere are with me on this one.
I HATE that blasted Elf on a Shelf.
I HATE him.
I get the concept. It was birthed from a stroke of mom genius that then morphed into marketing brilliance and has since become a parenting nightmare. So this is not meant to be offensive in any way to the ninjas that created it. I honestly wish I was as smart and ingenuitive as they are. But I’m not.
Which, I guess, in retrospect is part of the problem.
Because our Elf, Sully, is a royal pain in my behind.
I purchased Sully under intense duress from my children, who, having witnessed their peers delight in the many zany antics of their own elves felt as if they were missing out. It’s my own fault. I should have know. I should have been able to see into the future and guess that the my own special set of skills and talents, which include drinking wine and terrible dancing, do not line up with those necessary to sustain the Elf throughout an entire Christmas season. They just don’t. I’m old enough to know this and thought I had made peace with it. So the question is: why on earth did I succumb to the pressure? Love, people. Love is always the answer. Because I love my kids. And also, I’m weak. Weakness played an equal part in the decision, I’m pretty sure.
I’m going to go ahead and give credit where credit is due here, for the first two weeks of Sullys life in the Burnt Toast Household, he did some pretty awesome things. He wrapped the cereal boxes and milk in wrapping paper. He married Barbie and drove off to the honeymoon in her Barbie Car. He made candy cane you-know-what in the potty. He was a regular barrel of laughs.
And then mommy got tired and daddy was smart enough not to buy into it and the first place so the elf basically just relocated each night, his movements completely lacking in both props and creativity. And, sometimes….sometimes poor Sully didn’t move at all. He just forgot. Yes, for the last 4 years I have limped to the Elf on the Shelf finish line with exhaustion and ever-growing disdain. It’s a marathon I don’t want to run and I am resentful of at the finish.
Last year, in a stroke of genius, I told the children that Sully was so important and so impressive to Santa that he was desperately needed at the North Pole just a little longer so his dramatic entry (if you count sitting on the kitchen counter with “I’m Back” spelled out in marshmallows as dramatic) would be delayed until the 12 days of Christmas. (Feel free to steal, parents. That, right there, is my own special brand of parenting genius for you. You’re welcome.) It was brilliant and bought me just a few more days of sanity in an already insane time of year. But this year, NO….I couldn’t pull that again. Not with every classroom in the school having their own elf and every child comparing “elf antics” at lunch each day. This year I bowed down to the pressure and out he came.
But here’s the deal, readers. I’m done with the fancy elf shenanigans. I have friends who are so creative and so good at this Elf thing that I stare at their daily Facebook posts in shock and awe. Their elves are like the George Clooney of all elves, living crazy jet-setting lives full of gorgeous women (Barbies), high class parties and worldwide celebrity. And that’s awesome. I love their elves and their creativity, but I’m done trying to live up to their impossible elfin standards.
My elf, he’s different. If my elf had a human counterpart he would be an overweight Midwesterner with a penchant for Funions, light beer and Roseanne Barr. He’s never set foot over state lines, and he really doesn’t ever want to. And I’m good with that. Our elf has only been out for two days (yep, I forgot for the first few days of December. And I’m ok with this failure. I’ve embraced it and moved on already. You should too.) and this morning my middle son looked at him hiding in plain sight, and said with a sigh,
“Well he’s not very hard to find, is he?”
Nope. He’s not, baby. And he’s not going to be. Get used to it. I’m going full-on lazy Elf from here until Christmas, you can tell your future therapist to thank me later.
Parents, cut yourself some slack. I don’t know the inventors of the Elf personally, but if I did, I would guess that they didn’t create him with the idea that this would add yet another layer onto the already suffocating parenting guilt sweaters that we all wear. If making your Elf do crazy creative things that would make Pinterest swoon is not your thing, go with it. Start with the expectations very, very low. If your elf only ever moved from shelf to shelf (which by the way, is his actual name so I don’t think it’s a bad thing if that’s where he stays) your kids wouldn’t know any better. Don’t knock yourselves out every night trying to come up with something creative if you don’t want to. If you do, GREAT…you do you. But if you don’t, give yourself a break. It’s ok. Your kids will be fine and will still remember the Elf fondly when they’re adults.
And also, if you forget one night (or two, or three) and he doesn’t move…just tell them it was because they were so naughty that he froze with sadness in his very spot until they get their acts together. Works like a charm, friends. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
And in the spirit of forgetting, I’m gifting you this amazing recipe, handed down to me by my beautiful and loving Aunt Beth. It’s amazing because your forgetfulness actually works FOR you and not against you in this one. In fact, they’re called Forgotten Cookies because you make them, put them in the oven and then forget them for EIGHT hours. You do nothing with them for 8 hours and then out come these delicious, light, airy, melt-in-your-mouth cookies that taste complicated and like you spent hours getting the texture just right. They’re like little pillows of deliciousness, and I promise that everyone will believe that you worked tirelessly in the kitchen just for them. They never have to know that you absolutely DID NOT. Perfect for teacher gifts or cookie exchanges and unlike the Elf, these truly take a load off of your already holiday-burdened shoulders.
Delicious and Pillowy Christmas Cookie. Recipe Courtesy of my beautiful and talented Aunt, Ms. Elizabeth Peacock.
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I used mini-chips)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (omit if desired)
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Step 2 Beat first 3 ingredients at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
- Step 3 Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. (This can take up to 5 minutes. Go throw a load of laundry in. Or empty the dishwasher. You’ve got time).
- Step 4 Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans, if using.
- Step 5 Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto aluminum foil-lined baking sheets. Place in the preheated oven and IMMEDIATELY TURN OFF THE OVEN. Do NOT OPEN the oven door for at least 8 hours. Carefully remove cookies from foil.
- Step 6 Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Step 7 Makes about 5 dozen.