To thine own Elf be true

December 23, 2014


Retro and Elf on the ShelfMaybe it’s a good thing Elf on the Shelf didn’t become popular while my boys were young. The commercialized book and accompanying toy elf has sent perfectly sane Mothers across the country into crazed, creative overdrive, as they devise elaborate plans for the Elf to trick and surprise the children in their house with daily elfish antics.

Moms report that one morning, the little sprite has spilled cereal all over the floor. Ha —ha, naughty Elf! Another day brings squeals of laughter when they see the impish guy has strewn toilet paper all over the sunroom, while keeping a mindful eye on the tots and reporting back to Santa anyone who needs to be moved to the “naughty” list. But won’t the children start to wonder how someone who’s so bad, has the authority to tattle-tell on anyone else? Hey, Elf, Let ye who is without sin cast the first gumdrop.

I prefer my Grandmother’s heirloom (hand-me-down) Retro-Elf, which has for decades, perched quietly in our Christmas tree or potted plant, and calmly minded his manners while grasping his knees to his skinny chest. That’s the kind of elf I admire – the strong, silent type who gives you a look like he can see right into your soul, tells no one what he’s seen, and steers clear of mischievous pranks.

I’m torn by how I would have handled this new disruptive Elf on the Shelf because on one hand, I’m all for being an overachieving creative Mom, but on the other hand, I don’t like being forced to wreck my own house on a daily basis from December 1st — 24th.


The fun Super-Mom side of me, let my boys find a fluff of cotton caught in the front door, which was a sure sign the Easter Bunny had made a quick getaway from our Beagle. All my cookies were homemade, as were the Halloween costumes. The Tooth Fairy left behind a tiny trail of pixie dust, the Birthday Fairy hung streamers in their rooms and somehow, Santa at The Grand Hotel, always managed to know specific details about their lives that no one else could possibly have known.


2789e738e307ea85f90e0f917feb7289And lest you think I forgot the minor holidays, the Groundhog’s Day snack was a little dish of Teddy Graham cookies, which looked an awful lot like the shadowy mammal, and a groundhog puppet would tuck them into bed while singing a little Groundhog’s Day song. It was loads of fun and totally worth any future therapy bills we may incur.

But the Practical-Mom side of me thinks the daily hijinks of this new Elf on the Shelf at the busiest time of the year has gone a bit too far, and for me, the, “Queen of Over- Do- It,” that’s saying a lot.

1764bf09ba0938c8163644ee5742cbcbThe custom outfits and props you can (must) buy for your Elf, and entire year-round web sites devoted to ideas on how to make your Elf super-duper naughty and cutesy are too much to take. One Mom ripped open her sofa pillow and scattered feathers around the room so her darlings would find their elf in the middle of a pillow fight. Did no one grab this woman and tell her she had lost her ever-lovin’ mind? “Darlin’! You’re tearing up your own $90 pillows from Dillards! Snap out of it!”

Simmer down elfIf I ever awake to find there’s a big-eyed goofy-faced Elf in my house who has scribbled in my books, filled my sink with marshmallows, or made snow angels on the kitchen counter with a bag of flour, that’s the day I’d turn him into a dog toy. And if Santa had a problem with that, I’m sure Retro-Elf would back me up all the way.




  • It is a tad confusing that the naughty elf is put in charge of tattling on the little ones. It’s a little like putting the class bully in charge of the students when the teacher steps out of the room. I do enjoy seeing those pictures though and those elf-crazed moms are making some wonderful memories with their children.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Yes, I can’t wait until about 15 years form now when we hear what the kids were really thinking!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Thank you Lori, and warm Christmas wishes to you as well.

  • I actually have one of those “retro” elves. I saw him somewhere in the attic when I was cherry-picking Christmas decs this year. Then the little scamp hid from me! He came off a Whitman’s Sampler box in 1968. (Yes, dear, I am Vintage.)

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Someone told me they used to give the elves away with purchases of certain products. That would be a cute thing sitting on top of candy . . . that you obviously received when you were an infant!

  • hahahaha, you’ve got a good point Leslie Anne! I do have an elf, just to keep my grandchildren in line, but he NEVER makes messes, just quietly guards things here and there. They each have an elf that comes to visit when they spend the night, but they just move around the house sitting in funny places, making no mess at all! Have a JOLLY holiday, I hope to get to Fairhope soon!

    • Leslie Anne says:

      You have incredibly well trained elves. Just the kind I like!

  • You are right. With the years Retro-Elf has on him he is much more mature than that young up- start, Elf on a Shelf.

  • Like you, I grew up with the Elf perched knees to chin around a red candle in the midst of a pottery container of live holly and berries. My mama still brings him out every Christmas. Not being a mom, I haven’t kept up with Elf on the Shelf and didn’t know about his pranks. Lucky me, I’m sure Google will tell all 🙂

    • Leslie Anne says:

      Oh, brace yourself if you Google the Elf, because there are even naughtier antics than what I found fit to describe here!

      Merry Christmas to all the Retro Elves everywhere!

  • Malinda Clay says:

    I totally agree. I don’t think this has been a very good substitute for discipline. Love your Antique Elf. I found one just like him last year and took it to my new/first grandchild born in Nov 2013. He is our little Angel in heaven this year. Wishing you and family a safe and Merry Christmas from Mississippi.

    • Leslie Anne says:

      And Merry Christmas to you and all those you love in Mississippi.

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