The Elf on the Shelf

A Christmas tradition from the 2005 children’s picture book, The Elf on the Shelf, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coe Steinwart.

The book tells a Christmas-themed story, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice. It describes elves visiting children between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, after which they return to the North Pole until the next holiday season.

As a parent myself to two adult children, this Christmas tradition was not known when my children were young. It was introduced in 2005, so I never had the responsibility of this new Christmas tradition. Parents today are responsible for being creative in how The Elf on the Shelf will entertain their young children.

The Elf on the Shelf Christmas tradition adds to the magic of Christmas and the story of Santa Claus.

At the North Pole, Santa has many helpers who make the Christmas season special. His scout elves serve as his eyes and ears in homes around the world.

This story describes how Santa’s ‘scout elves’ hide in people’s home to watch over events. Once everyone goes to bed, the scout elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa the activities, good and bad that have taken place throughout the day. By hiding in a new spot each morning around the house, the scout elf plays an ongoing game of hide and seek with the family.

The Elf on the Shelf explains that scout elves get their magic by being named and being loved by a child. Once the elf is named, the scout elf receives its special Christmas magic, which allows it to fly to and from the North Pole.

The legend tells how the magic might disappear if the scout elf is touched. “There’s only one rule that you have to follow, so I will come back and be here tomorrow. Please do not touch me, my magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know”.

The story ends on Christmas Day with the elf leaving to stay with Santa for the rest of the year until the following Christmas season.

Children awake each morning excited to see where the elf is perched. Parents use their imagination to provide fun and special Elf on the Shelf memories.

There are two main rules when it comes to the official Elf on the Shelf. First, the elf is to be moved to a different location in your house every night while your children are asleep. Second, you need to make sure your children never touch the elf, or else he’ll lose his “magic”.

Some parents love the annual arrival of Elf on the Shelf, while others look at the arrival of December with dread.

The Elf on the Shelf is another bit of magic to add to this season, and to celebrate the unconditional belief in the impossible that is unique to children, so do what works for you.

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