If you have kids, you've probably heard of Elf On The Shelf. The idea is that an elf from the North Pole comes to your house before Christmas and reports back to Santa on who has been naughty and nice.
It's a great idea in theory, but in reality it means a lot of effort for parents. Every night, the elf moves around the house, often doing something sneaky or funny. For some parents, it's fun. For others, it's just an added source of stress. Christy Heins, a mom of three from Illinois, posted about her experiences with the tricky tradition.
"I know that some people truly enjoy setting up elaborate scenes with their elf, but for me, cleaning up after 3 children and a dog is enough," Heins explained in her post. "I forgot to move him more times than I can even count, and I cut it close a few times trying to sneakily move him after the kids were already awake."
"Today my pastor's sermon was all about how advent is supposed to be a season of feeling PEACEFUL and cute little George wasn't exactly falling into that category for me. I also was never good about using the elf as a way to improve my kids' behavior so he really didn't have an effect on their behavior whatsoever."
Instead of ending the tradition all together, Heins wanted to do something that would still allow her kids to believe in the magic of Christmas.
The mom-of-three pulled out some Santa stationary and wrote her daughters a letter from Jolly Old St. Nick.
"I crafted this letter keeping in mind that I wanted to keep the Christmas magic alive, and also keeping in mind that many of my kids' friends will be talking about their elves still hiding and doing funny things," Heins said.
"Greetings from the North Pole! I am very busy preparing for Christmas, but I did want to take the time to write you an important letter about your scout elf, George Elf.
I think you will be pleased as peppermint to learn that George Elf had a very, very special Christmas wish this year. He has enjoyed you three girls so much over the years that his only wish for Christmas this year was to be a REAL toy in your house. You see, scout elves (elves who fly back and forth to the North Pole each night to report to me) are something kind of new. When your mommy and daddy were little, they didn't have scout elves like George Elf. A few years ago, I had a great idea and wanted to try using scout elves to help me decide who is on the Nice List and who is on the Naughty List each year. George Elf and all the other scout elves have been a big help! Some scout elves LOVE their jobs and want to keep flying back and forth each night. But just like people, each elf is different. George Elf wanted more than anything to be played with like a real toy. He saw the excitement and happiness in your eyes each morning when you found him, and he wanted you to be able to touch him and play with him just like your other toys. He asked me if I could make this wish come true for him this Christmas, and I said YES! I love making Christmas wishes come true.
He thought it would be fun to hide one more time for you to find him. He knows that once you touch him, he will lose his magic to be able to fly and that's okay! That's what he really wants! He wants you to play with him and treat him like a member of the family from now until Christmas. I will pick him up when I visit your house on Christmas Eve and he will ride back to the North Pole in my sleigh to spend the rest of the year with his elf family.
I will still keep watch on you, just like I always have, to see if you're on the Nice list or the Naughty list this year. Please use this Advent season to prepare for the celebration of Jesus being born and always, always treat others the way Jesus would want you to treat them. That's what Christmas is all about! I'll be watching to see if you are kind and caring towards others. Merry Christmas and enjoy your time with George Elf!
Heins wanted to make it clear, however, that she has nothing against the Elf On The Shelf craze.
"Absolutely nothing against this tradition for those who love it!" she wrote. "This is just a good fit for our family! I hope I've found a way (kind of a cheater way) to sort of keep it going, but take a little pressure off at the same time. I hope the girls will be as excited as I am!"
A few days after her initial post, Heins updated the public on how it all went over.
"I'm happy to report that they are absolutely THRILLED!! They think it's so special that George wants to be part of our family. He definitely got the royal treatment today, including his very own bed and about 52 bedtime stories."
Heins's idea has been going viral since she posted it, and parents are loving her creativity!