Okay, let’s play the game, Never Have I Ever… Ready?…. Never have I ever had an Elf on my Shelf…Now how many mommies had to drink to that? Welp, if you’re anything like me, bottoms up 🍸! Ok, but seriously, prior to my daughter attending this predominantly white private school in the suburbs, I had never seen (nor heard) of this thing called an Elf on the Shelf! So, trust me when I say, ya girl was absolutely floored to find out that this is a legit real thing! In fact, according to CNN, since its launch in 2005, more than 11 million elves have been sold. Is that not insane? Just think about how many of us, myself included, have been suckered into buying one! The things we do for our kids… 

How the Elf Got on My Damn Shelf? 

I don’t know about y’all, but the majority of black households that I visit during the holidays typically have a Black Santa, the Black nativity scene or some type of snow globe on the shelf. So how in the world did I end up with a damn elf sitting on mine? From what I recall, it went a little something like this.. 

Every day for a week straight this little girl would come home from school begging for an elf. 

Aniyah: Mom, can we puuuhleeease get an elf on the shelf? 

Me: Sure babe. Go draw one and we can put it on the shelf. 

Aniyah: That’s not how it works mom. 

Me: Ummmm okay. Put it on your wish list and we can ask Santa for it. 

Aniyah: That’s not how it works either mom. *eye roll* 

Me: *eye roll back* Well, how does it work then? 

Aniyah: We drive to Target and get one. 

Well, that seems simple enough, so off to Target we went. As soon as we spotted the aisle with the Elf on the Shelf, my kid started walking faster than a Karen could ask to speak to a store manager (and we all know how fast that is)!

Me: Alright Aniyah, can you grab this thing so we can get on? 

25 minutes later….

Me again: Aniyah, if you don’t grab one of these things and come on. 

Aniyah: I have to make sure that I pick the right one. 

Me: Welp, there’s only one Black one so it looks like that’s our elf. 

Just for context (and not because I owe anyone an explanation with regards to my parenting decisions) the whole reason as to why I decided to purchase the elf in the first place is because I had recently become a single mom and that Mommi guilt hits hard AF during the holidays. Anything (within reason) during this season that my mini asked for, was hers for the taking! My rationalization was, because I failed to provide her with the two-parent household that she deserved, I would distract her with things to take her mind off what she was missing. Note to all single mommies: Do Not Try This Ever! Attempting to replace people with things will never work and while this seems like a basic concept, I know many of us are guilty of consciously and/or subconsciously attempting to do it anyway. Nevertheless, I bought the damn Elf and my kid was ecstatic in that moment. 

What to Do When There’s an Elf on the Shelf? 

And just like that, the moment was over…We pulled up to the house, she jumped out of the car, I reached back to get the elf and the next thing I knew she was crying and screaming bloody murder.  

Epic Fail #1: Apparently, no one can touch the elf or it’ll “disappear.”

Once my daughter regained her composure, she was able to explain this bizarre rule to me. 

Me: But Aniyah, you touched it when you picked it up at Target, the cashier definitely touched it and I touched it when we got in the car. 

Aniyah: Well, her magic doesn’t activate until she gets inside of the house. 

Me: Duuuh, which is why I touched her outside of the house. I was just checking to see if her magic started working in the garage or if she had to wait until she gets inside the actual house. 

Aniyah: oohhhh ok. Well, just to be safe let’s not touch her anymore. 

Me: Roger that. 

Epic Fail #2: Apparently, the elf reports back to Santa at the North Pole nightly (wink wink*) and then each morning, the elf returns to the house and sits in a new spot.

Well, I learned my lesson after the car catastrophe! So when I say I did not touch the damn elf…I mean like at all! That next morning, you could not tell me I wasn’t winning as a Mommi…well, that is until my kid spent over an hour scouring the house like a maniac.

Me: Aniyah, what are you doing? 

Aniyah: Looking for my elf. 

Me: What do you mean? Your elf is in the car. 

Let’s just say, the waterworks and screaming started all over again! Thank goodness I had Santa on speed dial (aka Google). According to him, the elf didn’t move because we forgot to name her and her magic does’t work until she hears the child call her name. 

Epic Fail #3: Always remember the number one rule…name your elf.

Aniyah: Oooohhh! So all we have to do is name my elf and then her magical teleporting powers will work? 

Me: Yup. 

Aniyah: Oh, I thought she knew her name was Philly. 

Me: Philly? How did you come up with that name? 

Aniyah: That’s what it says on the box. 

By this time, I was over the damn Elf on the Shelf, but I saw how much it meant to my mini, so I decided to call in reinforcements. Who better than to ask than a PTA mom? 

Me: OMG Becky, I like totally need your help! 

Becky: Of course girl what’s up? 

Me: Have you ever heard of this thing called an Elf on the Shelf? 

Becky: Oh nooooo, not you too!!! Uggggh Don’t stress girl my kids go absolutely crazy over it. I’ll send you everything you need to know.

Me: Thanks a million, you’ve been a dollar! 

Now for those of you who don’t have a trusted PTA mom to call for things like this, I got you sis. Here’s what I learned from Becky: 

  • The Elf on the Shelf was written in 2004 (which explains why most of us didn’t grow up following this tradition) by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. They decided to write a book about an old tradition of an elf sent from Santa who comes to watch over them during Christmas time. 
  • To avoid #epicfails (like the fumbles I highlighted above), make sure you thoroughly read the rules first.
  • Now that this whole Elf on the Shelf wave has taken off, make sure you stream the Netflix Movie, Amazon prime the latest clothes and accessories, and stay on top of the new Elf Pets created just for mommies to spend on.
  • Finally, for those mommies like myself, who are on the less creative side when it comes to figuring out places to hide the elf, you can find some clever ideas here. 

Why the Elf Remains on My Shelf? 

Now whether or not you allow your child to believe in Santa Claus, Black Santa, or Mommi Claus is completely up to you. To be honest, I think my child only believes in Black Santa so that she can continue with the Elf on the Shelf hype, but that’s neither here nor there. Bottom line, this is something that brings her joy! Every morning she wakes up excited to go on a scavenger hunt to find her elf. It incentivizes her to be on her best behavior (which in my head sounds much better than bribing even though I know it’s the same damn thing) and it allows her an opportunity to have a common association and interest with some of her classmates.  So after season 1 of not knowing or understanding the rules, forgetting to set an alarm to move the elf, and not grabbing any of the overpriced merch, I’d say I’ve come a long way this second time around! I’ll even venture to say I’m enjoying it, which is why the elf will remain on my shelf!

Cheers and Happy Elf Hiding,

Mommi, Pamela P.

Thank you so much for reading! We’d love to hear all about your favorite holiday traditions. Are you a Mommi that participates in Elf on the Shelf? How’d you get started? What age are you tapping out? Let us know and remember to tag MommiNation in all of your social media posts!