Extreme Makeover- Elf Edition

Posts 04

I have a confession to make. I hate the elves.  You are probably having one of two reactions right now. Either you are thinking that I am crazy because the Elf on the Shelf is nothing but wonderful Christmas fun, or you are thinking that you finally found a woman after your own heart. Maybe I would feel differently if they had been introduced to my family when I was first making holiday traditions with my children.  Alas, it was not to be.  Elfis is our first elf.  He came into the family when the oldest child was in 3rdgrade.  Snowflake followed.  She even needed accessories. Because it’s not enough to have to clothes shop for children…Snowflake must look her best too! Eventually a younger kid begged for one and we gained our third elf, Candy.  My kids know I’m not wild about the elves.  They found a workaround: Santa.  They knew that mom was unlikely to go for it, but the jolly fat guy wouldn’t let them down.


For anyone who is unfamiliar, the elf flies back to the North Pole every night and reports to Santa. Hence, a new landing place in the morning.  I have seen some really cute Elf on the Shelf setups.  I often wish that I was one of those creative crafty moms.  Right around this time of year you are likely to see photos of elaborate scenes of elf mischief and delighted faces of young children. And I have to admit, if I spent 3 hours setting up scenery for Elfis, I would darn well document it on social media.


I often find myself overwhelmed during this season.  There is so much to do and it always seems like there is not enough time.  Proper usage of the elves meant that I couldn’t set them up for the next day until all the children were in bed and unlikely to get up again.  This coincided with the time of day where I was the most worn down and likely to forget. It turned into an ongoing source of stress.  Where should the elves be tomorrow?  For extra fun: they have to be in a different spot every day.  No repeats.  Who had disappointed children on a few mornings?  This mom did!  Because the elves turned out to be slightly less reliable than the Tooth Fairy.


It was with much delight that I passed on elf duty to a teenager a few years ago.  I could hardly believe my good fortune.  She really wanted to be in charge of the elves and I really wanted to let her.  It was what you call a win-win situation.  She was entirely more excited about moving the elves than I ever was. Also, she was willing to pull out stepstools or ladders in order to send the trio to ever-increasing heights.  They started posing on high shelves, peering out at the room from their perch on curtain rods, and peeking out from the tops of kitchen cabinets.  Everything was great.  Until the day it almost wasn’t.


I returned home from the elementary school holiday class party and found my husband and daughter waiting to talk to me.  I was already a little bit fried from the festivities and I didn’t like the look on my husband’s face.  It read: brace yourself.  My daughter approached me with a look of apprehension and said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.”  This was not going to be good.  My mind was already conjuring scenarios.  Bad grade or trouble at school were the first things that came to mind.  She invited me to sit down with her in our front room and proceeded to close the French doors.  Clearly, she wanted privacy for this discussion, which was not a good sign.  I sat there somewhat impatiently and waited for her to gather her courage.  She looked upset.  I started to think that this might be something serious.  Finally, she blurted out, “There’s been a little bit of a situation.”  I replied, “A situation? What kind of situation?”   She continued, “Well, remember how I hide the elves? I put them in the light fixture this morning and,um, I kind of burned them a little.”  Now, I should have paused here to be alarmed about fire risk, but the house showed no signs of damage. Instead of the concerned reaction that I should have had, I instead burst into laughter.  She was not amused.  The angrier she got, the funnier I thought the situation was.  She kept giving me little details that were intended to convey the seriousness of this issue.  Candy’s scarf has burn marks!  Two of the three elves are messed up!  There’s a face print on one of the light bulbs!  The last comment put me completely over the edge.  I was laughing so hard that I had tears running down my face. For the record, she was right about the face print.

I finally gathered myself and got the giggles down to a minimum.  She led me into the dining room and explained that she repositioned the elves – good side out. They were inside of the cabinet behind glass doors.  Candy and Elfis faced each other in profile view.  She reached in to retrieve the elves, and even though I had heard all of the story I was still not prepared for what they looked like.  Their faces were charred and melted.  The scarf was in fact burned.  It was shocking!  And because I’m that mom, it was hilarious.  “I’ve always hated those things!”  The laughter was uncontrollable.  And I had a brief moment of joy.  I thought that this would be the end of the elves.  My daughter wailed, “How are we going to explain this?”

Indeed, it was a good question.


Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.  This was one of those times.  I was going about my business of the day and suddenly there was a “situation”.  I hadn’t asked for it.  I hadn’t planned for it.  Nonetheless, I now had to deal with it.  This is the nature of our existence.  We can’t plan for everything or anticipate every unusual outcome.  The reality is, I don’t think I would want to. My family has been through seasons of chaos.  I am known to tell people that we pray for life to be boring.  I could do without medical emergencies, car wrecks, and family drama.  I don’t think I actually want life to be boring though.  We aren’t made to walk a straight line.  Challenges help us to grow.  Surprises lead us to unexpected lessons.


What did my daughter learn from this? For starters, don’t put elves on a light bulb!  She also discovered that sometimes you have to go to plan B.  My husband took her to Target that night.  They bought replacement elves, but there was a catch.  Unbeknownst to us, the design had changed slightly from the originals.  My youngest daughter found fresh-faced elves tucked into the garland on the bannister in the morning.  “Mom, what happened to Elfis?”  My eyes widened and I replied, “Why do you ask?”  At this point, I’m thinking we are busted.  She announced, “He looks completely different.  Elfis got a makeover!”

My prayer is that we are able to rest in the joy of the Christmas season.  As I reflect on the birth of Jesus, it strikes me that it likely did not go as Mary planned.  Luke 2:7 says, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”  I doubt Mary planned for the birth to occur as it did.  I can only imagine the distress she would have felt after being turned away from lodging.  In the end, the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth are an integral part of the Christmas story.  He came helpless into this world and saved all who call on his name.  May we all remember the wondrous blessings that can come with the unexpected.  Merry Christmas!





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  1. Well done. I was almost with you on laughing so hard. As always when you describe something it puts me right there with you.

  2. Well done. I was almost with you on laughing so hard. As always when you describe something it puts me right there with you.

  3. Karen Fedler says:

    Again you have me in stitches. I was never so happy as I was on the day my daughter told me she knew about her Elf. I think I actually did a little dance. I hope you and the family have a very blessed holiday !!

  4. Jamie says:

    They do elves at school, and I’m fine with them living at the school! No elves invading my house!

  5. Diane says:

    Amy, that was funny, thoughtful & beautifully incorporated into the Christmas message! I will try & not miss these gems from you!!!❤️❤️❤️

  6. Betty says:

    Reading it againI love a; and I was laughing with you. I love all your stories. Keep them coming.

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