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It’s Friday! Cheers!! {How To Both Terrorize Your Child and Start A Holiday Tradition}


posted: 12/14/12

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

It’s Friday! Cheers!

This week I am not going to drag you down with stories of snot, vomit, and tears. And not because they weren’t a central feature once again in my week (that’s three weeks in a row if you haven’t been counting), but because I like you too much to do that to you.

No, this week I’m going to share with you a heartwarming tale of terror.

The story of Star the Elf.

To be honest, we never even planed on doing the whole Santa thing with our kids. (I know. I can hear the gasps as I type this.)  It just wasn’t all that important to us, and I grew up without Santa and turned out  . . . I mean . . . mostly ok. We had friends beg us to do Santa, certain that we were going to ruin it for their kids. We had others applaud us for not “lying” to our kids. People get a little heated about the whole Santa deal.

So yeah, we were sticking with not doing Santa. If for no other reason, I wasn’t staying up late wrapping presents so some mythological fat man could get all the credit.

And then last year, around this time, Gavin looked at us and said, “I wonder what Santa is going to bring me for Christmas!!” Ummmm . . . say what now?? He wasn’t even in daycare. I have no clue how this happened. But there we were, stuck between a rock and a fat red belly bouncing like a bowl full of jelly.

So. We’re doing Santa.

And then I kind of got into it. And wanted to do an elf. Like an elf on the shelf . . .

Sigh. I blame Pinterest.

After reading this post, I rethought it. And then I realized something, It’s allllll a lie! And when you are lying to your kid, really, the sky is the limit. So I decided to tell Gavin that I was going to buy an Elf on the Shelf from Target and we could see if it would become magic. I figured, he had an elf at school (his teacher is regularly telling the students that Snowflake is making reports to Santa, and they aren’t all merry), so he would be super excited about an elf at home.

I was wrong.

Here’s the thing (I’m warning you now, this is going to be an insanely long post), Gavin has a fear of like . . . a lot of things. He doesn’t want to go to movies (what kid passes up going to movies??) for fear that they will be too scary. New books terrify him (even if they have fuzzy bunnies and hearts on the covers). So many things scare this kid.

I really should have seen this coming.

When I told him I was headed to Target to look for an elf, he told me no. He told me he didn’t want an elf in our house. Too scary. When I brought this up to Nathan he looked at me like I was the dumbest person on the planet and said, “Hmm, something that looks like a doll, but watches you all day long and magically moves around the house? Yeah, why on earth would he be afraid of that??”


But . . . I did it anyway. I bought the elf. And to be fair to me, if Gavin weren’t totally irrational were an only child, I might have gone a different way on this. But I honestly thought that this was something that could be really fun for the kids and something they would remember for a long time with terror.

I will never forget what happened on elf day. We had just finished lunch, and I had put Quinn down for a nap. I said to Gavin, “Guess what Quinn and I did while you were at school??” He just looked at me. “We got an elf!!” His face falls. I go out to the car to get the elf. Gavin stands at the garage door and pretty much begs me to not bring the elf into the house. I know. Don’t stop reading my blog forever. I’m not a horrible mother . . . all the time.

As I brought the elf in the house, Gavin went out of the house and into the garage. I had to beg him, no more like force him, to come back in. He started crying and begging me to take the elf back to the store. I’m the worst, right?

So there we sat on the floor while I held a crying Gavin, read him the book that came with the elf, and asked him to be brave. I asked him to name the elf in the hopes that that would make her (I think it helped just a teenie tiny bit that our elf was a girl) magic. He reeeeeeaaaallly didn’t want to. He kept telling me that the idea of the elf becoming magic was scary.

Kid had a point.

So I asked him if Santa was magic. He said no. I told him that given that he flies around the planet with reindeer in one night delivering gifts to all the kids of earth, I was pretty sure he had to be magic. That got him thinking. I could see the wheels turning. I thought maybe we were making headway. I asked him if we should name the elf “Doo Doo Head.” Mature. I know. He said, “Mom! We have to give her a cute name!!”

So then he thought he might want to name the elf, Star.

A few minutes later, he announced the elf’s name would be Star.

Later that day, he told me that he wasn’t scared anymore. I asked him what happened, what changed?

He looked at me and said, “I just told my brain, ‘Gavin, there is not reason to be scared of this.’  And now I’m not scared!”

The next morning, the box that Star came in was open and she was gone! Gavin ran through the house looking for where she might have gone off to.

She left this note for him. To be honest, I think Star went a little heavy on the glitter, but I’m kind of a critic.

I still don’t have faith that I did the right thing. Though, I suppose that is like a lot of things in parenting. How do you really know you went the right way?? Even if I made the absolute wrong decision, though, terrorizing my son in the hopes of starting a wonderful childhood memory, I am so proud of Gavin for conquering something he was afraid of and finding the joy in it. And . . . . maybe it was the right choice after all. Just last night he picked out a book for bedtime that he previously refused to read and said was way too scary.

Also, it’s been really fun for all of us, even Quinn, to find Star each morning. She’s got quite the sense of humor.

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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  1. Jessica Peters says

    Aww, I am so glad Gavin overcame his fear of the elf. I can’t say I blame him. Those things are kinda creepy looking.

    • Lisa says

      Right? Even I am a little freaked out thinking she’s watching me.

  2. Julia Kelly says

    Oh Lisa, you crack me up! Very funny. :D

    • Lisa says

      Thanks Julia : ) I’m so grateful for people who can appreciate my twisted humor!

  3. Cathy Trochelman says

    I don’t know why you resist all this Christmas fun…you are a natural! :)

    • Lisa says

      A natural . . . . at lying?? : )

  4. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says

    Hahahahaha I love it! Jordan was TERRIFIED of France. She still kind of is…and he is banned from her room. She also won’t come downstairs without us. I’m evil, because I think it’s kind of funny. (Also…why she’ll be in therapy as an adult. I’m already saving for it.)

    • Lisa says

      See! This is why we get along!! You understand. I too have been putting more money away for Gavin’s therapy fund than his college fund. : )


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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners