I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
December 12, 2018
I used to live in fear of the moment our fourth and final child would declare he no longer believed in Santa Claus. For my husband and me, it would mean an end to over a decade of Christmas Eve milk and cookies, present hiding, and late night stocking-stuffing. A major chapter in parenting would come to a close forever, and I knew that moment would come sooner rather than later; after all, my daughter stopped believing in Santa Claus when she was nine. My son, three years her junior, couldn’t be far behind.
How wrong I was.
Five years later, my son, now eleven, still believes in Santa. Or at least, he says he does. And we’re not really sure what to do about it.
“I’m just gonna tell him,” my husband said a couple of months ago. “He’s too old to believe in Santa Claus. It’s getting weird.”
“Are you kidding?!” I asked him incredulously. “You can’t tell him. That’s totally against parent code! We’ve gotta see this thing through to the end.”
And we have, even though I have to admit, it does feel a little strange. “You’d better not be naughty! Santa will be checking his list!” sounds good when you say it to a five-year-old. A middle schooler, though? Not so much. Also, the kind and loving speech I had carefully worked out for when my kids asked if Santa was real is now totally inappropriate.
“Santa is the love and joy you feel in your heart at Christmas time,” I was going to tell them sincerely. “As long as you believe in him, he’s real to you– no matter what your friends say.”
I try to imagine myself saying that to my 11-year-old and it just sounds like so much bullshit. Honestly, if he were to ask me today if Santa is a fake, I think the answer he’s looking for from me would be this:
Until he asks, though, I’ll go along with the Santa thing. The Elf on the Shelf is another matter altogether.
I was actually one of those parents who swore we weren’t going to do the Elf at our house — and then my daughter came home from kindergarten one day and solemnly informed me that she was the only kid in her class who didn’t have an elf. We couldn’t have that, now could we? Charlie Greensleeves appeared soon after that. And he’s been a disappointment to us all ever since. Because while other kids’ elves make Pinterest-worthy mischief around the house every single day, I decided early on to manage my kids’ expectations.
“Every elf is different,” I told my children a few weeks after Charlie arrived and the complaints about him had begun. “You know how Carly’s elf brings her candy and Austin’s elf painted the dog’s toenails red and green? They got good elves. But I’m afraid Charlie Greensleeves is lazy. And he’s also sort of an assh– a jerk,” I finished lamely.
“Is that why he doesn’t move every night, Mommy?” my daughter asked.
“Yes, and that’s why he had that tag that said ‘Made in China’ on him when he first arrived,” I said. “It was a cruel prank to play on you guys. Everyone knows Charlie was made in the North Pole!”
Charlie’s been a drag ever since. And as the kids got older, I was absolutely certain that Christmas 2017 would be Charlie’s last. We didn’t even think of getting him out this year along with our other decorations… at least until my son mentioned him while we were decorating the tree.
“I wonder when the elf is gonna get here?” he asked quietly, giving me a strange look. “I hope it’s tonight.”
I stared at him for a long moment. Who was playing whom here? “Elf?” I asked finally. “What elf?”
“Charlie Greensleeves,” he said. “He’s usually here by now.”
I shuddered involuntarily. I can go along with Santa, but Charlie and me? We’re done. Totally. Done.
Still, when I thought about it, it made sense that my son might want to see him one last time. And that’s when it hit me.
This Christmas — Charlie’s last — we are sending him off with a bang.
Between now and December 24th, come to my house and you will find him in one place and one place only. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:
The Shelf on the Elf.
Goodbyes are never easy, and sometimes they’re forever. I think this effectively teaches both lessons. In fact, I’m hoping other families add this to their Elf on the Shelf tradition. When it’s time for your kids to give up their Elf (or when you just can’t take this Elf on the Shelf nonsense anymore, whichever comes first), why not bid him farewell in a truly memorable way?
Goodbye, Charlie. It was nice knowing you. I guess.