How Our Elf on the Shelf Saved Christmas


It’s that time of year, the holidays are in full swing and that means our Elf on the Shelf will soon be making her annual appearance. Elf Girl, as my kiddo so proudly named her, shows up for us the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I could not be happier or more excited to embrace this tradition.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t always been an elf enthusiast. 


I used to roll my eyes at all the elf posts, the antics and the ridiculousness of it all. But then COVID hit in 2020, my mom passed away that same year, and, well, we desperately needed some joy in our household. That Thanksgiving, our house was going through a particularly low period. We were isolating because of the pandemic and in the middle of deep grief as we prepared for our first holiday without my mom. None of us were in a joyful spirit and we were ready to just skip to January and forget the holidays altogether.

But my husband decided to mask up and went to the store for some cookie supplies in a last-ditch effort to bring some fun to the house and he happened to buy an Elf on the Shelf while he was there. I was less than thrilled. In my head, I didn’t need another thing to remember to do during this bleak holiday. But he was trying to find something to pull us out of our funk, so I figured we could try it for a few days just to appease him.

I jumped on Pinterest to find some cute elf antics and off we went on this Elf on the Shelf adventure. After the first week of elf fun, I realized my husband was right; it was exactly what we needed. It gave us a new focus every morning (and every evening as I threw myself into elaborate fun elf antics). This elf thing had quickly given us a new tradition that wasn’t mixed with grief or rooted in memories from my childhood with my mom. This was new and something fun we could do for our daughter that had zero grief attached to it.

Not only that, but it was providing some much-needed joy in our home on a daily basis. 

Our daughter absolutely giggled with joy every morning when she found Elf Girl, her Dad and I tried to top each other with creative elf antics every night, and it really helped shift all our mindsets that Christmas. We loved it so much that we continued it the following year and it’s now a solid Christmas tradition we plan to do as long as we can.

Now unlike some people, we are very relaxed about our elf rules. We have no stress around the elf situation. If someone accidentally touches her, no biggie. She sometimes moves and doesn’t move at all other times. Sometimes she moves twice in one day, sometimes (especially on Mondays) she takes a nap on the counter and doesn’t budge. She doesn’t watch for naughty kids and the only thing she reports back to Santa are Christmas wishes. We just have fun with the elf and use her to bring some more joy to the house at Christmas. That’s all that really matters to us.

Who knew a little store-bought Elf would help us find the joy again that Christmas when we needed it most? I am forever thankful for that silly Elf Girl and the magic she brought back to our home. Elf or no elf, I no longer judge what traditions people want to use to bring joy to their families during the holidays. For us, the Friday after Thanksgiving, our Elf Girl reappeared, and with her, all the love and family traditions began to unfold and the Christmas season is in full swing. I, for one, cannot wait to have this on my to-do list.