Christmas traditions — there are too many to count. Every family has at least one special thing they do every year.
Some kids make paper countdown chains. Other families have chocolate advent calendars. And then there’s the timeless Elf on the Shelf fiasco.
If you’ve heard of this tradition but aren’t familiar with the details (I wasn’t), Huffington Post has shared some guidelines for clueless parents like me.
The basic idea goes like this: mom or dad hides Santa’s “scout elf” each day leading up to Christmas. You give the elf a name — something silly such as “Happy Higgenbottom” — and kids get excited about the game, searching the house for the elf each day.
When they go to sleep at night, the elf moves to a different spot. They’re not allowed to touch the elf (or the elf disappears, apparently), and the elf reports to Santa, letting him know who belongs on the naughty or nice list.
Phew! Sound like a lot of work? It does to me. I’d probably forget to hide the elf each night, only to scramble frantically the next morning to move it to a different location.
One mom decided enough was finally enough when it came to the “Elf on the Shelf” tradition, and Allison Andrews shared how she finally bid farewell to their family elf Jupiter.
In a 2017 Good Housekeeping article, Andrews discussed how she felt her daughter was growing too old to keep doing the magical tradition.
Andrews admitted she “rejoiced that I would never have to wake in the wee hours of the morning in a total panic because I forgot to move him again.”
Still, the mom struggled with finally letting go of the tradition. “The elf brought so much joy to my daughter. I decided Jupiter needed to go out with a little more meaning,” Andrews wrote.
So she penned a letter from Jupiter the elf to her daughter. What she said is both memorable and heartfelt, perhaps even a keepsake her daughter will remember when she grows older.
“Hi, Sidney!” the letter from Jupiter begins. “This is normally the time of year that I fly back to the North Pole and return home with Santa. The good news is that this year I won’t be leaving. The bad news is that next year, I won’t return, at least not how I have in the past.”
The “elf” goes on to explain to Sidney that his “magic is nothing compared to the magic that is inside you” and he “was just a reminder that Christmas is about joy, surprise, and mystery.”
In the end, Jupiter thanked Sidney, reminded her to be giving and forgiving. He told her to “have fun and be curious” and finally said, ‘I love you.”
The goodbye idea is truly creative and can perhaps be an inspiration to other parents who might be ready to bid their own elf adieu.
Do you keep the Elf on the Shelf tradition? Whatever traditions you keep, we wish you a safe and merry season full of joy. And don’t forget to, as Jupiter says, “always be kind and thoughtful.”
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