I MAINTAIN you have roughly eight or nine Christmases with your child before they start to ask questions about Santa.
It isn’t really until they are around the age of three that they understand the concept of what is happening and what the hell we are all so hyped up about, so that leaves us with five or six years.
Well, that’s depressing.
Life is full of Negative Nancys and Moaning Myrtles, you scroll through Facebook and nearly need a counselling session afterwards.
Instagram is no better with picture perfect posts about how she lost 14 stone in six hours on the new air free diet, while tandem breastfeeding, before arriving at the school run with perfectly manicured nails, blow-dried hair and the latest influencers lashes. What a load of bull.
As a mother of five children, including one child with autism, we make a lot of sacrifices throughout the year, life can be chaotic and we aren’t always able to attend the social gatherings that most families can just walk out the door to, at a moment’s notice, without a care in the world. So, I pull up my big girl pants and get on with it through the only way I know how, sarcasm and wit and bringing the fun to us.
The one constant in this house is that I make a big deal out of birthdays and Christmas and our family knows, when it comes to these occasions, I go all out. I have been known to throw some of the best children’s parties of all time, not that I like to toot my own horn but TOOT TOOT! Some may call it overcompensating, I call it mind your own business.
Enter Buddy, our elf on the shelf.
It was about four years ago that I made the purchase/mistake (depending on the day you catch me) and he arrived in our house to the kids’ delight and a shake of my husband’s head. I am not one for fads and the latest must-have toys, simply because I am sick of picking them all up 43 times a day, so unless it has a purpose around these here parts, then it is smuggled out of the house between the hours of 9am to 3pm on a weekday and donated/binned.
I liked the concept of this guy, the Yanks call him Elf on the Shelf — I like the term Gnome in the Home or Ya seen the Feen? The story is that you receive an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ with a book, it tells you once your family has named him he will receive his magic. The naming ceremony can be long, tedious, drawn out and you may need to separate certain family members, a whistle is recommended if you have more than two children.
Once the name is picked, this then allows him to fly to/from the North Pole. The elf/gnome/feen then hides in the home to watch over the normally very interesting events daily, once everyone goes to bed the elf reports back to Santa in the North Pole all the good and bad activities that have taken place throughout the day.
Before the family wakes up each morning, the elf flies back from the North Pole and hides. By hiding in a new spot each morning around the house, it is an ongoing game of hide and seek, so you have to think up 24 new places and hiding spots each year — just as well you have 11 bloody months to prepare!
The magic will disappear if the elf is touched. Cue the screaming when one of the younger siblings has him by a foot running up the hall and the rest are running in the opposite direction, thinking he is contagious.
The story ends on Christmas Day with the elf leaving to stay with Santa for the rest of the year until the following December, and you put him away and are spending the rest of the following year trying to remember where.
As I was slowly being outnumbered in my own home, I thought, well, if he can provide an extra set of eyes to keep them in line in the run-up to Christmas, then more power to him. The old threat of a bag of coal loses its touch fairly lively when you don’t even have a coal fire and they are rolling their eyes thinking you are going to recite how you walked barefoot each morning to school with your sister on your back in ten inches of snow.
Having five children apparently isn’t enough pandemonium for me, I had to add to it for the month of December just to hear the scatter each morning to see what Buddy has been up to the night before.
Some of our most memorable mornings were when he was found after putting post-its all over the kitchen cupboards, when he abseiled down the hall in a pair of knickers, when he was held hostage by the natives and duct taped to a hot press door, or that time when Elsa froze him overnight in the freezer.
There has also been an occasion when he “broke his leg” and was in a cast for a week or so, unable to move (I was having a slow week in terms of ideas to hide him) and if the kids are acting up or speaking fluent Whinese that day, then Buddy doesn’t move at all; if you are being bold then Buddy is on hold.
I also like to use this as an opportunity for the kids to do a clear out and donate the toys they do not need or play with (or the toys I do not need to be dealing with... shout out to loom bands, beads, slime, glitter glue and play dough, or if you really hate me, recorders) by teaching them that they need to give back. Buddy can leave out a basket and take any toys back to the North Pole to the workshop to be given to other children in need, which makes room for the items en route on Christmas Eve.
It’s all a bit of harmless fun and as the kids get older in my house they are involved in the whole process, so instead of everything stopping and Christmas losing its appeal, I try and turn it around and let ‘Kevin the teenager’ create his own magic and antics throughout the house.
The days may be long but the years are short and you know you must be doing something right when they are counting down the days until Buddy returns and you are pulling your hair out as you can’t find him yet.
For some ideas on what to do with your Elf, check out Pinterest or Lenore’s Staying Alive With Five Facebook page.