LOST: Elf on a Shelf

LOST: Elf on a Shelf. Pointy Red Hat and Red and White Elf Suit. Stands about 12" tall. Last seen getting into mischief before heading back to the North Pole on December 24, 2012. In our house, he is known by the name "Jokey."

Between selling a house, renting a house, then building a house, moving three times from three different locations along with three storage units, Jokey is lost. I've looked everywhere. We spent 8 hours on Saturday going through every. single. box in the basement (no small task) but he's no where to be found.

Part of me didn't think it would be a big deal. The fun and mystery of the elf to a 4 year old had certainly lost its magic for a more mature and more aware 5 year old... Or had it?!

One of my friends several years into the tradition admitted she's struggling to come up with new ideas each night - sometimes in the morning, because she'd forgotten the night before. I've been guilty of that as well. Just yesterday I saw a post from another friend who had decided NOT to bring back the elf this year...until their first grader announced that every child in class had an elf except their family. 

Then it hit me. Has our Elf on a Shelf game become a fad? In the Pinterest/Facebook era we live in where everything is posted, it seems only fitting that even this silly and fun little game has turned into every mom's worst nightmare of beating out one another's creativity with her perfectly posed elf scene only to see how "popular" the photo will be - determined, of course, by likes and comments. 

Are the virtual accolades what we are striving to receive? Or is it the amazement of the child(ren) waking up to discover the scene? I wonder... 

Now, before you think I'm bashing Pinterest or Facebook or even Elf on a Shelf, let me add some clarification. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love everything about Christmas! I love decorating, I love celebrating, I love the fun and wonder, I love the advent calendars, the games, even the elf. I have an outlet right now in which to blog away my own personal thoughts (and remember, that is all they are). I posted my own gingerbread house disaster last night - why? For laughs mostly. I was so frustrated by the whole project and they looked like a preschooler had put them together I thought others might enjoy laughing at my predicament. Was it for likes? Was it for comments? Let's get back to that.

I also love Pinterest. In fact, as I type at 6 a.m. there is a new recipe that has simmered in the crock pot all night long so we can enjoy a hot breakfast.

Back to the elf. I thought it would be a fun game but had no idea of the "magic" behind the story. The elf comes to life at night (that's how he ends up in different scenes all throughout your house) but you can't touch him or he loses his magic, yadda, yadda. I didn't want this to take over the real joy of the season and the birth of our Savior, so our elf wasn't "untouchable." Gasp, I know. But you try explaining to a curious 4 year old he can't touch something that looks like a toy. Jokey wasn't here to spy and report to Santa. He was actually here as one of Santa's helpers and a house guest and it was our responsibility to teach him our house rules (especially when he made a mess), but most importantly, teach him the real reason of Christmas. Jokey made several appearances in the Nativity scene as this was further opportunity to read the Christmas story to the elf...and Eli. (This was our Elf story last year.)

I'm not casting judgment on anyone posting Elf on a Shelf photos. The heart of this entire matter is what is at the heart. Truly. What was my motive in posting my elf scenes? Was it for fun? Was it for likes? What about the gingerbread houses? What about this blog? What about anything I post? Certainly I'm hoping someone will read it. But why? Do I need approval? Credit? Security? Friends?

I've come to the conclusion that 98% of what is posted is what I call the Facebook Facade. It's the illusion of the life we want, or the life we want others to believe we have. It's all the "pretty" - the new car, new phone, new this, new that. It's "likeable" stuff. Literally. I'm preaching to myself here, I promise. I've been weirded out recently by people following me on Facebook - and they're not even my friend. I didn't even know that was a setting or option. Regardless, when you post it, you let people into your life so naturally you only want them to see the "good", the "likeable" stuff. But that's not real. That's not always life. Life isn't always Facebook-post-worthy. In many ways, that's why I started this blog some two+ years ago.

I was discouraged to see all the banter that seemed to turn "unfriendly" as people were posting photos of Christmas trees and decorations only to spark debates and arguments over it being before Thanksgiving. Where's the "like" in that?! So what if someone wants to put up their tree before - or after - and take a picture of it?! I enjoy seeing all the photos of beautiful Christmas decorations. I promise, I'm not trying to zap the magic out of the elf or Christmas. I'm just evaluating.

Maybe we share Elf on a Shelf scenes so we can use them as our own when we've run out of creative ideas of our own. Maybe we share them looking for some sort of affirmation that we had a good idea. Maybe we share them because the kid(s) didn't get the same thrill or humor as our peers might.

Here's why I will be buying a new Elf on a Shelf since Jokey is lost. In case you can't read 5-year-old, that says "Dear Jokey, Dear Santa, I love you.) You can hear it in his own words here.

That is the beauty of sharing things on Facebook and Blogs and posting. To share the magic; to share the wonder. To remember that it's not about ME. It's not about how creative I can be with my elf, or how good my decorations turned out, or how awful my gingerbread houses look. 

And, in case this happens to go viral and you see a lost little elf in a red elf suit, please send him home!


  1. Nicely written! I love to share anything for a giggle. You completely hit a home-run on the part where you said we want to share likeable things. It's second nature to me to zoom in on a pic, or crop out all the clutter/mess in the surrounding areas. Yes Facebook, my house is a disaster and I don't care! (But I still will never post a pic of the mess!) (Also, please don't drop by for a visit, Carrie, or I'll make you stand out on the porch! No lie!) Anywhooo...I love the fanfare of the silly elf. (Ours is touchable too, by the way, even though my kids are too weirded out to touch him.) I love the belly laugh my 8 year old gives when he finds him in the morning. I'm sure he doesn't believe the legend behind the elf, but that doesn't bother me a bit. I love that my almost 13 year old still plays along and gives ole Melvin a sideways glare and an eye roll with a smirk. Sometimes he'll even snap a pic with his iPhone to share with his friends on the bus, but of course then it becomes his "brother's elf", haha! I love that I'm making silly memories with my boys AND I love that ole Melvin has quite the following on Facebook so that I can share the laughs with others. I hope to inspire others to find a way to share a laugh with a loved one! Please replace Jokey soon!

  2. Well said. I don't do elf on the shelf because I am usually max out with other stuff around the first two weeks of December. I had really enjoyed doing the dino scenes, though. At first, Daniel and Hannah were: "You did it, Mom!" After a few days, Daniel asked, "Are the dinos gonna come out tonight?" Hahaha.


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