This is my oldest daughter’s second Christmas not believing in Santa Claus. She is 11 and stopped believing in all the magic of holidays around Easter in her 10th year. She was upset at the revelation there was no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Not upset because she felt we lied, but because the magic of childhood had quickly eluded her. I tried to lift her spirits by telling her she now got to be part of a great secret that has been going on for generations and she had the great honor of helping keep the magic alive for children around the world. It did not seem to help much at the time, and we trudged through our first non-Santa Christmas together. She was respectful at keeping the secret for her younger brother and sister, despite her feelings.
During my older daughter’s early childhood, the Elf on the Shelf came on the scene with a vengeance. I remember her coming home from school and asking me why we did not have an Elf ourselves. At the time, I did not know what she was talking about, I had never heard of The Elf on the Shelf. Then I slowly began to see Facebook posts about the Elf, news stories, posts, articles, and other friends discussing elf antics with me. The little Elf took over and fast. I decided that as a family, we would not be participating in this new Elf tradition. We did a lot around the holidays, adding something else made me feel stressed and overwhelmed, especially something I would have to remember to do every night. Every year my daughter asked, every year I would tell her that we had politely declined the Elf’s invitation from Santa (I didn’t want to ruin it for other parents who were choosing this tradition in their homes).
This year, my non Santa believing daughter came to me once again about the Elf. This time she asked me if we could get an Elf for her to move around every night for her brother and sister. She said she would take full responsibility and make this her little project. She wanted to surprise her siblings and keep the magic alive for them and she thought it would be fun for her. I agreed, hoping this would help, and I have seen her spirits lifted with the addition of this new holiday tradition that is all her own. She is giddy over finding fun ways to move the elf and trouble for him to get into. The best part for me is seeing how excited she gets to watch her siblings frantically search for the elf every morning. She is seeing the magic through them and it has lit her Christmas flame once again. So, after years of denying the Elf’s existence in our home, its that little guy who has saved Christmas for us, go figure.