When it comes to Elf on the Shelf, parents fall into one of two camps: they either love it or loathe it. There’s simply no in-between. Sure, everyone has their reasons (“You shouldn’t manipulate your kids!” or “It’s too much work!”) And they’d be right, because it is a total time commitment. Mornings are manic as it is, and having to make your Elf appear in an elaborate scene every day can be too much. For me, I happen to unabashedly adore Elf on the Shelf — and to be honest, I’m going to miss our Chloe when this chapter comes to a close.
I used to see Elf on the Shelf sitting on store shelves, and I would carefully guide my cart (and my kids) away from it. It wasn’t something that I really wanted to commit to (didn’t the kids already have Santa Claus to be excited about?) But when one of my littles came home from school all out of breath because a friend had an Elf who was So. Much. Fun, well, I begrudgingly brought one home.
That same night, my littles were on my lap, and we read the book together during bedtime. I wanted to not only introduce the concept of Elf on the Shelf, but also get a better understanding of what I was getting myself into, commitment-wise. It wasn’t until when we got to the page where we had to name our elf that something happened. The kids immediately called her Chloe (I was hoping for Vivienne, personally), and I have to admit, something in me…shifted. I suddenly saw her (the doll became a “her!”) in a new light — and a loving one at that. I tucked my kids into bed that night, excited for the next morning and their first encounter with their Elf.
To be honest, my first few attempts at hiding our Elf were amateurish. I opted for a hide-and-seek approach, letting my littles find her in obvious locations around the house. “Oh look! Chloe’s in the Christmas tree!” or “She’s on a shelf!” (You know, like a real Elf on the Shelf.) Although Chloe was always happy to be caught (or so it would appear, since she was always smiling), when I saw the excitement on my kids’ faces, it made me want to do more for them — and for her. And so I did.
I found myself perusing Pinterest on the regular to find fun ways for the kids to find their Elf. And there certainly wasn’t a lack of ideas. Chloe was found climbing a wall, “peeing” lemonade in the toilet, replacing the cream in Oreo cookies with toothpaste…the list went on and on. For the most part, I would stay up late at night to prep her for the next morning, something that I learned the hard way when I forgot to move her the night before.
As they say, all good things must come to an end, and sadly, this will eventually be the case with Chloe. My kids are 9 and almost 7 right now. That means that the window is starting to close on this chapter of our lives. If I’m being honest, I think next Christmas will be the last year that Santa Claus (and Chloe) come to town again. And it sucks, because just when I’ve gotten a groove with her elfish antics, Chloe will become a memory for my kids. They might wax nostalgic in the future and say to each other: “Oh! Remember that red doll we had? What was her name again?”
And I will softly say, “Chloe. Her name was Chloe.”
For now, though, we’re not there yet. But eventually, Chloe will just be a doll, and when that happens, I’m going to feel it. Like, really feel it. It will mean putting Chloe back in her Elf on the Shelf box for the last time. She’ll stay up in the attic, season after season, with the other holiday ornaments. Could she be gifted to another family? Sure — but I’m not sure I want to do that.
My hope is that my children will have fond memories of the years they spent with their Elf on the Shelf. I certainly have. It has tapped into my creativity and allowed me to bond with my babes in an entirely new way. What started as a gangly red doll turned into something so much more for our family. She became a truly beloved tradition that we all came to look forward to. Chloe will still be magical — at least, for me.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually let my kids hold her for what might be the first (and last) time.