We have a special visitor who comes to our house every December, and on a few special occasions throughout the year. It’s our scout elf, Pete. Pete first came to our family eight years ago, which means he’s been with us longer than our youngest son! It’s hard to believe how fast the years have gone by. A decade with the elf!
If you are not familiar with the Elf on the Shelf tradition, you can read about it here. But the short version is that Santa Clause sends out his scout elves to make sure that boys and girls are behaving in the days leading up to Christmas. Each night the elves fly back to the North Pole to report to Santa, and when they return in the morning they are hiding or playing in a different spot. In order to preserve their magic powers, however, the elves cannot be touched by children. They are “workers” not toys. I know everyone has a different reaction to the Elf on the Shelf tradition, but it was one that our family adores. It has become a fun part of our Christmas celebration and one that will yield happy memories for years to come.
We all look forward to the arrival of Pete every year. And there are always tears when we bid him goodnight on Christmas Eve. From the children, not from me. Because an entire month of creating new elf experiences is exhausting.
But, if I am completely honest I do feel a tinge of sadness every Christmas Eve. The most magical month of the year is drawing to a close and my children are one year closer to growing up. The kids’ sadness has lessened somewhat over the years due to Pete’s regular returns for birthdays and surprise appearances on random days throughout the year. He doesn’t come too often, but just enough to make missing him bearable.
This year Pete arrived with a suitcase full of clues for the all the amazing surprises he has planned this December. Let me be clear, although Pete can sometimes get into a bit of mischief as elves are apt to do, our elf is a happy-go-lucky guy who loves to play with the kids’ toys and find ways to delight them every morning. Sometimes he does leave a giant mess for me to contend with, like when he bakes muffins for breakfast or decorates the house with snowflakes, but his heart is always in the right place.
So far he’s brought the kids new pajamas, and a candy cane bouquet. We are still waiting to see how he will use the rest of his items to surprise us.
Over the years, Pete has had a few favorite activities that we have seen year in and year out. He almost always hides in the Christmas tree and breaks into the candy while we are sleeping.
He also love to watch football. And we usually find him decked out in his North Pole jersey relaxing with pretzels and a beer(!?!) on Sunday mornings.
This year, he actually left me a grocery list requesting his favorite items: marshmallows, giant marshmallows, divinity, candy canes, Christmas m&ms, Christmas ribbon candy, hot chocolate and brownies, eggnog, peppermint sticks – to name just a few. I’ll get right on that, Pete!
Another annual tradition is the celebration of Kevin’s birthday. Each year Pete dons his cupcake outfit and brings out the birthday wishes for our oldest son. This year he will turn 13 – I wonder if Pete has something special in store – wink, wink.
Pete has now started visiting on all the kids birthdays – and occasionally on mine, which I think is a bit unfair since it is in early January and Pete has just returned to the North Pole for some much deserved R & R. But the kids love seeing him whenever he arrives, so if he’s willing to make the trip who am I to question? Belle’s birthday is just two weeks later, so I think Pete waits until mid-January to take his much-earned vacation.
A year or two ago, Pete’s Elf Pet and friend Gingerbread arrived. Gingerbread is a reindeer who collects love and happiness from the children and uses it to send Christmas magic to the North Pole. Pete and Gingerbread have lot of fun together and the kiddos really like that they can hug and snuggle Gingerbread.
Sometimes, Pete brings the kids little presents, like Christmas ornaments, Christmas candy, a new book or a Christmas movie. He also sets up a fun treasure hunt for them on December 23rd. The kid have a ball figuring out the clues and finding their special gifts. They have gotten much faster over the years! I can’t wait to see what it’s store for this year.
Check out the gallery below of some of Pete’s other antics. He doesn’t actually seem to spend much time on the shelf.
Pete’s last night with us is always the same – he spends some time in the manger with baby Jesus. He usually makes a cake or brings a special gift. The kids love seeing Pete get into the real meaning of Christmas. He always leaves a little gift, some pictures or a special message when he leaves. We are all sad to see him go and another Christmas season draw to a close. But, boy – how we all LOVE the month that we get to spend with Pete.
Have you tried the Elf on the Shelf tradition? What do you think of that silly Christmas elf?