There is a symbiotic relationship that has not yet been mentioned in any nature documentaries. It is a pairing so natural and so essential and yet so modern that it has yet to be explored in depth. I am speaking, of course, of eggnog and the Elf on the Shelf.
For the uninitiated, the Elf on the Shelf is a relatively new tradition in the modern American home. It involves placing a little elf statuette in a prominent position in your house. This interloper proceeds to inhabit your home from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, when he heads back to the North Pole, otherwise known as the dark recesses of your closet. His sole purpose is to let Santa know if your children have been naughty or nice, and he “flies” from your home to the North Pole every night to make sure Santa has the most current intel.
In our home, the elf adds to the magic, though he’s not exactly successful in eliciting the good behavior from our children that he was designed to cultivate. To be fair, we don’t do a great job of reinforcing his purpose by lording it over them, wagging our fingers and whispering, “He saw that, ya know. He’s always watching.” Perhaps if we trumped up his presence and the notion of cause and effect, we’d yield better results in the good- behavior department. But I’m in no rush to create a “big brother” sense of paranoia in my children. Yet.
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Now, this all may sound effortless on your part. But somewhere along the way, being both Santa and magical elf, both judge and star witness, KGB officer and Stalin, has devolved into enormous amounts of work.
It used to be simple. The elf used to sit on a shelf day after day, just monitoring everyone’s behavior. But somewhere along the way, we parents began losing our collective minds. First, the elf had to reappear in new hiding spots every night so a fun game of hide and go seek could ensue each morning. It also helped close the logical hole of the game — that you can be bad in other rooms where the elf can’t see you pulling your sister’s hair.
But the crazy was elevated to new heights when parents started staging scenes where the elf was creating “mischief” around the house. Imagine the elf in your kitchen making donuts using Cheerios and frosting, leaving a wake of destruction in his path. Yes, it has reached that level of insanity – at least in our home. The kids loved it, of course. The problem is, washing dishes, folding laundry and binge watching Netflix episodes after the kids are in bed is enough of a challenge without adding “elf hijinks” to your lengthy to do list.
How easy it would be to simply say no to the whole rigmarole! But if you’re a parent of young children, you know how much easier it is to start a new tradition than it is to put an end to it, especially when naughty elves are involved. Plus, you’re a team player. And it is the Christmas season after all!
So you do what you must. You summon the holiday spirit from deep within, and with a nod to that judgmental little tattletale on your mantel, you make yourself a traditional noggin of eggnog.
Go ahead, channel your inner Martha Stewart and make your own — it’s easy, and you’re already scouring Pinterest for elf ideas anyway. Plus, you’ll need an ample supply to get you through the nearly 30 nights of hiding this elf.
Just make sure you find a recipe that includes a generous portion of rum. Bourbon is also an acceptable addition. Then, grab that elf and start spreading holiday cheer. I like to think of him as the perfect drinking buddy. He’s not there to judge you, after all.