Friday, December 5, 2008

What the Elf?

Laura just showed me a picture she drew of a little fellow in a red and green suit, with curly-toed shoes, and said, "This is the elf I'm hoping to get. His name will be Muckle." I was like, "That's cute, babe, but you're standing in front of the TV and I can't see Anderson." She persisted, "Do you want to know how I get the elf?" And I was like, "Okay, how?" She explained that if you leave crackers and water out some night in December, in the morning, an elf will have arrived and taken up residence. She said that he will be a little doll sleeping in a bed, but that every night he will come to life and get up to all sorts of mischief and tomfoolery.

As she spoke I had a dim memory of another mom I know complaining last year that her children had gotten an elf. And the elf was her. It dawned on me that this is some sort of awful plot on the part of the Elf cabal to add items to Mom's Big To-Do List. Lunches packed? Clothes laid out? Homework in school bag? Elf mischief accomplished? Good grief, Charlie Brown. My whimsy reserves are already taxed. The fairy houses are bad enough, and luckily Laura only makes one of those every few months.

What is a fairy house, you ask? Well, those are actually kind of fun, because they don't cost anything, and they are an actual activity. The child builds a little shelter out of bark, leaves, or twigs, and "furnishes" it for a fairy using rocks or flowers are whatever. Then, overnight, the fairy leaves a little treat for the house-builder. This means Mama has to come up with a treat while the child is at school. Last time, I broke into my gift closet and made her a little string bracelet with her name in beads on it. I only went to such lengths because I was out of random baubles that she'd never seen. She was thrilled. She is 7, nearly 8, and I can't tell if she really believes in this stuff or not. When she and her friend both worked on a fairy house recently, I commented to them that they better leave a note so the fairy would know there were two girls involved. They did. L's friend left a note that included her name and address. Her mom asked me, "Do you think I can just leave something in our mailbox?"

So, this elf thing. I did a quick search online, and it looks like there is one particular company that is behind the whole Mom is Your Secret Elf business. Elf Magic claims to be a "timeless Christmas tradition that has created special memories for countless children and families in homes around the world."

They are cute--I am not a total Grinch. And I'm sure your $26.95 (not including shipping) buys a lot of joy. But what gets me is that the website takes this twee tone, never actually explaining what the real deal is--that you will buy this toy for your kids, and you will acquire a temporary part-time job as an Elf. The website enthuses, "From discovering an Elf’s magical arrival in the home, to searching for their hidden Elf after a night full of mischievous adventures – children know the magic in Elf Magic is real!"

It would make me happier if they would admit for a moment that the "magic in Elf Magic" is Mom. We're all adults, here, right? My kid is not shopping on this site. And another thing, I don't know if I have a "night full of mischievous adventures" in me, you know? There are other people in line for that sort of thing, so take a number, Elf. But their determination to be all magical and stuff continues even in the clearance bin for last year's elves, which cracks me up:

While Available... Santa has discounted the Travel Ticket to $24.95 for his elves that did not get to visit a friend in 2007!!! Because of the lower travel fare the 2007 Elves cannot be returned to Elf Magic. They have a one way ticket only!!!

Oh for Pete's sake!

Have you heard of this? Are you doing it? I wonder, if we were lucky enough to get a visitation from one of the magical creatures, what sorts of adventures can they get up to at night? I think my supply of magical mischief might be short. Any ideas? Maybe, reorganizing the silverware drawer? Cleaning the baseboards? I got nothin'.


Cassie said...

I have not heard of the elves, but it sounds very cute (in theory). Here in Ann Arbor we have Fairy Doors all around town, in different businesses, homes, schools, etc. It's a fun little legend but at least I can avoid them... having one in my home would be far too exhausting.

Amy said...

Ok, wow. I have never heard of either of these "timeless traditions"! You're right--that elf website is's like they must really believe that the dolls come alive or something. Could L do with an invisible elf doll that makes nighttime mischief? Maybe he could write her notes on the mirror in shaving cream or rearrange her room while she sleeps? You could tell her that he's only good for a few nights of mischief and then he's contracted to work with another family.

p.s. i misssss youuuuuuu!! sigh...

Bren said...

I have a friend who has an elf of an invisible variety who leaves gifts every night of advent up to Christmas eve. I loved it in theory, but it sounded like just asking for a midnight run to walmart to fulfill elfin duties. So I, tired of elves and Santa getting all my propers, am giving intermittent gifts from ME throughout advent. Sometimes same one over and over ("santa mouse" will appear every year, as will certain DVDs with popcorn, and a gift for every day is NOT guaranteed)

I admit I like the magic, but the purchase of said elves is for suckers!

Sara said...

Wow, am I relieved they only asked for hamsters!
I've had serious trouble just getting the tooth fairy to show up in a timely manner. She once failed to show for so many days that she had to leave a wee postage stamp sized letter of apology.
Do you think that L likes the whole thing so much because she *does* know it's you, and she just likes to have this fun thing that you two share?
In which case, not as much pressure for quality mischief. Just some kind of mischief.
What a great imagination she's got!

Becky said...

Sara, our record with the Tooth Fairy is not good either. She's written a letter of apology here too!

And Cassie, those fairy doors are so cute! Ann Arbor always seemed like a great place to live.

I do like the idea of starting a fun tradition--maybe I'll do the invisible and intermittent Christmas elf thing too.

Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jane said...

If it were me, I might sign up for 3-4 nights of actual mischief, along with several nights of simply moving the elf to a new location. Whatever mischief he's accomplished that night is simply undisclosed. Maybe he's been day trading in the Asian markets?

Although I guess that might get tedious after a while, too.

Connie Weiss said...

I have a full time job as Elfcapade Cruise Director and I'm loving it! Every couple days the elves (we have two of them) bring a little gift but most days they just hide somewhere in the house.

One of the elves just stowed away in my husband's carryon this weekend and is now in Denver for the Bronco Game. Hubby is sending us pictures of POE and what they are doing together.

I don't mind doing this for the kids and it doesn't take much time...just a little planning which I'm good at anyway.

themommy67 said...

We are happy to have Magic Elves in our home for the bulk of December. Although they do not bring gifts, they do hide and eat cereal in the dead of night....but only because they have been making toys all year long and need to blow off some steam! My husband and I have a good time doing this magic and it helps keep us in the christmas spirit which is all about the these tough times it is comforting to know that a small investment can bring weeks and years of enjoyment for my kids. What other gidft under the tree can say that?