Maximillian Von Cheery Pants

I am startled awake in the middle of the night, my wife shaking me to attention. Moonlight pours through my window, illuminating the concern upon her face but I’ve still got one leg lingering in the land of dreams.

“Adam” she says to me, her voice trembling. “Adam… did you move the Elf?”

I am fully and mournfully awake now. I close my eyes, blissful sleep just barely out of reach. “Well played Maximillian Von Cheery Pants,” I think to myself. “You win again.”

The Elf on the shelf, a modern classic adored by millions. Also the bane of my existence for 24 days of every year. In the beginning it was everything that you might expect; new, fun, invigorating. The rush of finding creative locations for him to perch and the joy of seeing our children’s faces light up after scurrying around in the morning until they found the elf. When Maximillian Von Cheery Pants first appeared on our shelf it was a simpler time . But that was another life.

The Elf on the shelf is a drug and like any drug, you must continually up the stakes in order to maintain the same high. The first year is easy; kids go to bed and you put the elf on literally any shelf. The next night you move the elf to literally any other shelf. By the second year you might elevate your skills slightly and begin to incorporate some Christmas lights or possibly some condiments from the refrigerator, (that pesky elf…) then things really start to get tricky by the third year. After that, well… The central problem with the elf on the shelf is that sooner or later you run out of shelf space. Before you know it you’re spending all day researching Pintrest for exciting new ideas and spending hours after the kids go to bed erecting whole Lego cities with G.I. Joes and Barbie dolls reenacting scenes from your favorite Christmas movies in a desperate ploy to recreate that moment that the elf, and all of his magical charm first came into your family’s life.

For me it is too late. I’ve considered the possibility of engineering the elf’s untimely demise. We would bury him in a gift wrapped shoe box while my oldest son played Jingle Bells on his recorder. Then we would gather around his tiny headstone and share our favorite memories of him before we each tipped a sip of hot cocoa onto the snow and said goodbye to Maximillian Von Cheery Pants forever. Sadly though the elf on the shelf’s origin story is already too intrinsically part of the very magic of Christmas itself for my children. Consequently I cannot do away with the elf without also potentially sabotaging the framework of other traditions that we have built. Let my story serve as a lesson to others though. For those of you considering whether or not to shelf your first elf, shelf the idea itself. Before it’s too late.