How to Accidentally Set Your Kid’s Magic Elf on Fire

I’ve never set a stuffed animal on fire before, but there’s a first for everything. Technically, Alfie isn’t an “animal.” He’s a Christmas elf, actually a knock off of those expensive Elves on the Shelf. He’s an elf, who’d have to spend the next six months in a burn unit if he were human.

I admit that every December, I get overwhelmed and resentful about all the expectations topped with guilt and obligation heaped on us i

n the name of making Christmas fun and meaningful. When we still lived in California (where they haven’t heard of elf magic), I was able to get baking, shopping, wrapping, tree trimming, ornament exchange hosting, Christmas pageant volunteering and Christmas light viewing drives all crammed into a month where I was still expected to work, do laundry, help with homework and spend quality time with my husband.

Then we moved back to Georgia, where I learned about the Elf on the Shelf tradition.

SOME NAMELESS FRIEND: “Oh, Honey, what do you MEAN your boys don’t have elves? My kids’ elves are up to all kinds of shenanigans at night when little John Braydon and Laura Sarah Anna Grace are sleeping. They write Christmas messages on the bathroom mirrors in lipstick. They Sprinkle sugar all over the counter and write the kids’ names in it. One night they even moved the Christmas tree outside in the front yard and redecorated it with toys collected for the needy. The kids can’t wait to wake up every morning to see what they’ve done. The ELVES are the best part of our Christmas season.

ME: These elves, do they create havoc EVERY night?

FRIEND: Oh My Yes, Last night they hung all the freshly folded laundry on the living room ceiling fan.

ME: So, not to be an elf magic pooper, but you, yourself make these messes and you also clean them up. Am I correct?

FRIEND: Well, yes, But, it’s so much fun, though. It’s the kind of magic the holidays are about.

ME: Creating chaos and then having to clean it up. Yep, that’s what I want MY Christmas to be about.

FRIEND: Honey, go buy those boys a couple of elves. I think somebody could use a little Christmas cheer.

After noting the entire child population of Pine Forest Methodist Church and Northwest Laurens Elementary walking around with little green and red clad dolls, I caved and logged onto to order two Magical elves.

“$29.99!!!!!!! You have GOT to be freakin’ kidding me!!!!!!”
“No! Way! Am I spending $70.00 including shipping for a bunch of yarn and felt scraps sewn together in a 10th grade Home Ec class, even if they do have birth certificates and issued names like Piper and Gumdrop.

Luckily, a day later, in a local gift shop I ran across “Sort of Magic Elves.” Sure their faces were much larger than the Elf Magic elves and their bodies were rounder with a slightly dwarfish quality, but, hey, they were dressed in red and green, wearing pointy hats and shoes and cost only $12.95. I bought two of them and spent eight seconds naming them Elfie and Alfie.

At home, the boys loved their knock off, discount elves, but refused to claim them in public. If they were younger siblings, Alfie and Elfie would have to walk 10 feet behind Andrew and Jack to school. “Mom, the kids in my class were laughing at my elf’s head. They say he’s stupid looking.”
“Oh yeah? Well, just tell their mothers that you’ve got an extra $18 in your college fund. Who’s stupid now?”

So the last three Christmas seasons have careened by with me haphazardly planning elf escapades about half the time, and the boys wondering the rest of the time why Elfie and Alfie are so lazy. I was sort of able to convince them that their elves are special ed elves with severe ADD which interferes with their productivity. It was a heartwarming lesson in acceptance and loving people (and elves) in spite of their limitations.

Even the activities I DID plan for our elves were never as elaborate as that kid down the street whose mom makes goody bags for EVERY holiday including flag day. In the morning I’d say “Look boys, what are Elfie and Alfie doing in the garbage can? Those capricious little buggars.” Or “Look! How did Elfie and Alfie get in the refrigerator?” You’ll have to hug them extra tight to warm them up.”

But this Christmas season was different. I was trying! The boys were really getting into it, just thrilled at what they’d find their elves doing every other morning. Even my husband James, who is the Grinch personified, was strategically placing Elfie and Alfie up on the mantle and yelling “Boys, guess where I found the elves.” We were doing well……until…

That is, until I decided that Elfie and Alfie would have a wonderful time swinging on the chandelier above the breakfast table.

Click here to download my book, Just Kidding (not really) to read the rest of this and 60 other funny essays about life, marriage, kids and being neurotic. 

This entry was posted in Christmas Humor, Elf Magic, Elf on the Shelf, Elfcapades. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to How to Accidentally Set Your Kid’s Magic Elf on Fire

  1. Jay Hudson says:

    Angela,I loved it. I have never heard of the elf tradition in Georgia.
    I still believe in magic.



  2. Jamie says:

    I have successfully avoided the elf on a shelf thing. My youngest is seven so I think I'm in the clear. It's cute but do we another thing to cram into our already crowded lives the month of December? That picture is priceless. Too funny.


  3. Joe Ditzel says:

    Funny stuff. I've never heard of this elf tradition but I live in Los Angeles. Well, here's a toast to the elf that needs the skin graft. Better luck next year!


  4. Sharon says:

    Poor Elfie! Or was it Alfie? I hope he gets his skin graft soon. I never heard of the elf fad here in VA.


  5. Either I'm too old for the Elf Magic tradition (my youngest is 17) or Alabama isn't as sophisticated as Georgia and hasn't got “with it” yet, because I've never heard of it. Maybe I could make some extra Christmas money blackmailing my friends with small children to keep me from telling their kids about it! 😉


  6. Heidi says:

    OH MY GOSH–I KNOW! We have friends whose kid's elves parked their car in their front lawn! My poor deprived kid doesn't have a mischevious elf like her friends do. UGH! Thanks for the blog (and for buring the elf–yeah, burn em, baby!. Merry Christmas, by the way.


  7. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I love reading them and realizing I'm not alone in parental dysfunction. Be grateful if you missed the Elf on the Shelf trend. It's a huge pain.


  8. Shanti says:

    Loved this post, Angela. I never heard of 'Elf on the Shelf' until a few years ago. Thankfully, none of my boys' friends know, or subscribe, to the elf belief…Whew! Sounds dangerous 😉


  9. Marti says:

    Wow, these are the kinds of things that make me sorry my kids are all grown – NOT 🙂

    I feel like I really dodge a bullet with this one, as I'm sure any mischief I dreamed up would end as disastrously! Cheers to you for giving it a good effort, and it did make for a hilarious story!


  10. DB says:

    For the record, I was born and raised in Georgia, and this year was the first time I've even ever heard of the whole Elf/Shelf deal. And then, it was on a commercial.

    I think your town is just strange.

    I mean that in a “I totally understand because I live in small town Georgia” kind of way.


  11. Steve Norris says:

    A friend gave one of those elf things to the twins the other day. Now my wife tries hiding him in different places every day. The twins are nine months old, so they have no idea what's going on, yet, my wife insists on doing this.

    I'm not sure I'm in on this. I mean, how many different fake creatures do I have pump into my kids' heads for the next dozen years or so? Let's see:

    1. Santa Claus
    2. The Easter Bunny
    3. The Tooth Fairy
    4. The Hulk

    I'm just not sure I have the time or energy to add an elf to the repeated lies I have to make up at different parts of the year. I'd rather just sit them in front of MSNBC or CNN. It would be about the same thing…


  12. ssaretsky says:

    Angela – loved this! My elves would have been ADD with some sort of developmental delay, I'm sure. Great post!


  13. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

    – David


  14. Anonymous says:

    I think you have a great page here… today was my first time coming here.. I just happened to find it doing a google search. anyway, good post.. I’ll be bookmarking this page for sure.


  15. Carol Wood says:

    I really really enjoyed this one. Little bits of water squirted from my eyes, I was laughing so hard. I think I'm hooked. Thank you for continuing to write.


  16. CWMOM says:

    I have never laughed harder! I was searching for ideas to end this elf madness when I came across your blog! I don't think I can do another year of “elf-capades”! My daughter insist on writing her elf long letters full of questions every night of December! There's not a night I get to bed before 1 AM! I think we will all need elf therapy when this is over! If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them! Surely there is more of our kind out there.


  17. Katrina says:

    I love it! I laughed so hard I was nearly crying! I'm actually just starting the Elf tradition this year, of my own accord. Apparently, I don't need any peer pressure to make questionable decisions. 😛

    Thanks for the laugh!


  18. Rebecca J says:

    Hi – you're so funny! I'm going to be your newest stalker…I mean follower 😉 I found you on the “You know it happens..” blog hop.
    I live in TN and the elf is very popular here, but so far I have not succombed to that particular brand of madness…I mean really, don't we already have enough fake/mythical stuff going on at this time of year? Plus, I don't think anyone would notice any extra mess in my house. I believe it's all a plot by the makers of Elf on The Shelf to get us to buy those $30 dolls…I'm making a stand, who's with me?


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