Since I doubt young children will read this, I'm going to say it straight out: Elf on the Shelf is a sham!
There, I said it. I wanted to shout it from the top of my lungs last week, but being the oh so sensitive mom I am, I held back.
Sure, it's all fun and games until your child wises up. Or, as in my case, until the playground rumor mill makes it to your little one's ears.
Last week, right before bed, Will told me some friends told him Elf on the Shelf wasn't real and that parents bought the little guy and moved him around the house. My mind started reeling! What do I say?!
Then, it happened. Will looked me dead in the eye and asked: "Did you BUY the elf? Did YOU pay MONEY for the elf? Did he come in a BOX?" Rapid fire questions. I felt like I was under the white hot lights of a skilled interrogator. I felt the sweat beading on my upper lip. I couldn't think fast enough. I answered with a wimpy yes to each question.
My little boy threw his hands up and covered his eyes as he walked around in a crazy circle in his bedroom. "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. How could you mama? He's not real? Is that why he has a tag on the back of his outfit? He's just a toy?"
I quickly moved into survival mode talking about the spirit of Christmas, the power in believing, the magic, whatever my feeble mind could come up with at the moment. It was pure parental panic. Why hadn't I read the book? (Note to self: Always read the instructions!)
Then, like I do, I dug myself even deeper. As he continued the theatrics, I said "It's just like Santa. There's only one Santa - and millions of children around the world. The Santas you see at parties or at the mall are representatives."
Yep. Will looked at me completely horrified! "What's a representative? The Santas aren't real either? So, they don't even have real beards?"
The little guy finally fell asleep, leaving me to wonder if I'd ever recover. I texted my husband to alert him to the Christmas crisis. He came home that night and jokingly said "Julia, you need to lie. If you can't look him in the eye, then turn your head away and lie."
The next morning, Will went looking for that crazy little store-bought Elf then came running to me and said "Mama, I believe you. You're not a liar." I didn't question him. I figured if I did, it would only lead to another round of questioning. It was best to keep my mouth shut.
My son knows the true meaning of Christmas. I don't worry about that. But there is something very special about believing in magical things. I hope we can hold onto that just a little longer.
*By the way, a friend told me there's now an Elf on the Shelf Birthday edition. Um, no thanks!
Julia is a reporter for WRAL-TV and the mother of a grade schooler. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.