Tag Archive | Christmas

A Leprechaun Killed the Elf on the Shelf

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last week, I saw all the frustrated Elf on the Shelf posts from my friends, and smiled to myself. It was the kind of smile a parent wears only a handful of times in their lives when they know they’ve made a brilliant parental decision. In this case, I made the choice years ago to never invite that creepy, borderline demonic, looking elf into my house.

I’m willing to do a lot of crazy stuff for my kids, but continuously fucking up my house for the 24 days leading up to Christmas isn’t one of them. This time of year is about maintaining my sanity, so I don’t accidentally strangle one of my loved ones with a strand of Christmas lights while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. Well, that and all the merry, fa-la-la crap too, I guess. But it will never, EVER be about creating more work for myself during an already hectic time of year. There are innocent lives at stake.

 

 

Move along, nothing creepy to see here....

Move along, nothing creepy to see here….

 

 

I know what all you avid Elf-on-the-Shelfers are thinking right now – What a scrooge!! It’s FUN! The kids love it! Trust me, I’m not trying to give Ebenezer a run for his money. I can be just as holly and jolly as the rest of you at this time of year – though there’s usually some sort of booze involved. If you saw me years ago when my kids were little, you’d know that I wasn’t always against making a little mischief in order to entertain my children. That’s how I know these sorts of “fun” parental pranks can spiral out of control.

 

But it wasn’t the Elf on the Shelf wreaking havoc in my home – it was a little leprechaun named Shenanigan. It started out innocent enough. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal to amuse my (then) seven year old, fairy obsessed daughter and her friend who had come over for a play date. They had dubbed themselves the “fairy finders” and they were in active pursuit of the mysterious creatures when an idea occurred to me – I thought it would be fun for them to be able to interact with their fairies. But since it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make it a leprechaun instead. I blame my husband’s Irish ancestry and his ugly collection of Tom Clark gnomes – all of which looked far creepier than the Elf on the Shelf. Case and point:

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

 

The game began with me writing little notes for them to find around the house. When they came upon the first note (written in tiny, curlicue handwriting) they were absolutely giddy with excitement. They quickly started a written dialog with someone they believed was a fairy, but quickly discovered was a magical leprechaun visiting from Ireland. I swear I wasn’t drunk at the time. Looking back, I find that fact hard to believe because when you start seeing leprechauns, there’s almost always alcohol involved.

 

I’ll admit it, I was caught up in the excitement too. I got an adrenaline rush each time I had to write the note (in ridiculously complicated print) before they came back into the room. I had to be quick, quiet, and creative; or Shenanigan would live up to his fraudulent name and once again resume life as a dusty knick-knack on my shelf.

 

After about an hour, I couldn’t take the pressure anymore. My nerves were frayed and I had become more jittery than excited each time I escaped discovery. I ended the game by writing that Shenanigan had to go visit the houses of other good little Irish boys and girls before St. Patrick’s Day ended. While disappointed, they seemed to understand the reason for his hasty departure, which surprised me. They latched onto the weird idea of Ireland’s version of Santa Claus as a rational concept, the way only little kids and stoned adults can.

 

I stupidly thought their one-time encounter with a leprechaun would become a fun childhood memory they would recount years from now. Until my bright-eyed little girl came up to me before bed that night and said, “I can’t wait for Shenanigan to come back next St. Patrick’s Day!!”

 

OH. SHIT.

 

I had a brief moment when I thought about coming clean, but how could I look into those eager little eyes and crap all over her magical moment? Answer – I couldn’t.  And so began Shenanigan’s annual trips to our house. I felt compelled to try and make each visit more magical and outlandish than the previous year; which ultimately resulted in making my house look like a bunch of drunken, Irish frat boys had visited us.

 

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

 

Every year, I bought loads of gaudy St. Patrick’s Day decorations from the party store, and used them to trash my house. There were streamers hanging in every room of the house with balloons to match, shamrock confetti on the floors, rainbows and Irish flags drawn on all the mirrors, green water in the toilets, and glitter scattered where ever Shenanigan had left a note for them to read.

 

This is just a small taste of the havoc that Shenanigan left in his wake…..

 

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I think this was the day my seething hatred of confetti began…..

 

 

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Tri-fold mirror or poor excuse for an Irish flag – you be the judge.

 

 

After several years of this self-defeating stupidity, it got to the point where I dreaded the approach of St. Patrick’s Day. While my friends and family members were having fun going to parades and getting drunk on green beer, I was making an inordinate amount of housework for myself. The glitter alone was enough to make weaker moms run in fear. Have you ever tried getting a piece of glitter off your hands? Almost impossible. Now times that chore by about A BILLION, and add in some confetti to make it extra obnoxious. Every time I threw the little foil shamrocks all over the floor, I wondered if this was the year they would kill one of my cats.

 

Taste the rainbow.

Barf the rainbow.

 

The clean-up craziness would go on for days afterward because every time I turned around, I would find more leprechaun residue on the floors or furniture. I finally decided that no sane person would willingly sign up for this bullshit. Shenanigan had to die – preferably a slow, painful death involving party favors. I won’t give you the details of how I basically killed all my children’s St. Patrick’s Day dreams – I already feel enough like Cruella DeVil without having my parental mistakes immortalized on the internet.  But suffice to say that it will give my kids something to chat about with their future therapist.

 

After this experience, it wasn’t hard for me to decide whether or not I wanted to participate in the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. To me, it would be like inviting Shenanigan to spend a month with me. No offense to the little figment of my imagination, but he was kind of an asshole; and from all the stories I’ve heard about the creepy Christmas tattletale, so is the elf.

 

Looks like Shenanigan isn't the only one out to get the cats.

Looks like Shenanigan isn’t the only one out to get the cats.

 

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I Accidentally Killed Santa Claus

We were still a few weeks away from Thanksgiving, but as my daughter and I entered our local mall I could see signs that the Christmas season was already beginning to rear its overly commercialized head.  I’m not normally a scrooge, but I morph into one when I see people decking the halls before they’ve had the chance to digest their turkey dinner.  I think that as long as the turkeys of the world are blissfully unaware that they are about to have an ass full of stuffing, Christmas should be nothing more than a tinseled speck on the horizon.

 

calm this shit down...

I guess the management at JCPenny didn’t care that I had just gone trick-or-treating with my kids or that I had no desire to have Santa crammed down my throat along with all the leftover Halloween candy.  The department store was already dripping with tacky Santa sweaters and twinkle lights.  As I tried to find the nearest exit, my ears picked up the familiar strains of “Frosty the Snowman” over the speaker system – it was my very first Christmas carol of the season and I had barely had the chance to step one foot into the month of November.  When I heard the first few chords, I looked around in disbelief, searching for some store employee to blame for the auditory assault. When I caught the eyes of a woman who worked there, I vaguely pointed in the direction of the offensive sound and mouthed the word, “Really?”  She shrugged sadly as if to say, “At least you don’t have to listen to this shit all day long.”

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My 13-year old daughter, Meghan, was oblivious to my souring mood as she made her way over to the jewelry department.  Now thanks to Frosty the (unwelcome) snowman, I immediately started thinking about what Christmas presents to buy for her as she commented on the jewelry she liked.  I guess I fell right into the department store’s not so subtle consumer trap – hook, line and credit card.

Teenagers are notoriously difficult to buy presents for, and that goes double for teenage girls…. quadruple if it’s a gift of clothes or jewelry for a teenage girl.  You might as well just hand them the receipt for the item, along with your apologies for not even coming close.  I know that if it’s the wrong color, or there’s an offensive sparkle in the wrong place, the gift will be given a polite smile and then find it’s way to the bottom of their jewelry box or closet, never to be seen or heard from again.

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I knew I needed some help, so while we perused through the glittery baubles I said, “You should get a jumpstart on your Christmas list for Santa… and adding in some pictures would be a big help.”  Then I gave her an exaggerated wink and a nudge with my elbow, and continued to browse.

Meghan approached me with a look of stunned disbelief on her face and said, “Was that the moment??”

I was drawing a blank.  “You’re going to have to help me out because I didn’t wear my teenager decoder ring today.  What moment?” I asked.

“The moment every kid talks about – the one where their parent KILLS their childhood.”

I thought she was joking around with me, so I smiled and said, “Shut up.  Don’t act like we haven’t talked about this before.”

We have talked about the whole Santa scam before… right?  My brain started to frantically backtrack through all of our meaningful mother/daughter talks.  Here’s the checklist I came up with:

  1. Sex (check).  When she was about 9-years old, she wanted to know how babies were made.  I vividly remember her being grossed out when she understood what sex was and then realized her parents must have engaged in the behavior.  The conversation ended with a prolonged, “EWWWWWW!!!” and then she ran away.  Not exactly the bonding moment I had envisioned.
  1. Menstruation (check).  She got her period when she was 12-years old – if you count all the friends she texted first, I was probably the fourth or fifth person to find out.  I guess I should be thankful I was in the top ten, and that I didn’t have to find out about it on facebook.  After her admission, I took her through all the fun period paraphernalia and told her that Advil would be her new best friend.
  1. Drugs, alcohol and smoking (check, check, check).  We talked about the dangers of this stuff beginning in 3rd or 4th grade when I kept hearing stories about kids getting drunk and high in the 6th grade.  I would be thrilled if she never touched any of it, but realistically I’m just hoping to get through her high school graduation without having to ever find her laying down drunk in a puddle of her own vomit.

As my mind raced, I kept coming up blank where Santa was concerned.  Could it be that we had covered all these weighty issues and glossed over the fact that jolly ol’ St. Nicholas was a total load of Christmas crap?  It seemed impossible.  Equally impossible was the fact that none of her friends or older cousins had filled her in on the hoax.  But the forlorn expression on her face confirmed my worst fear –

I HAD JUST KILLED SANTA CLAUS.

SantaClaus

I tried to backpedal and pretend like I was just kidding, but it was too late – the fat man was out of the bag now, and there was no way of stuffing him back in.  I knew that Meghan would probably spend the next week mentally replaying all the lies I had told her over the years.  I could almost hear her future accusations, “You mean the EASTER BUNNY and the TOOTH FAIRY too?!  They were all LIES??”  Yes honey, but they were good lies.  (They must’ve been good for you to believe them for the last 13 years.)

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait a whole week for the wheels in her brain to start turning – the kid always was too smart for her own good.  During the ride home from the mall, she spewed rapid-fire realizations at me, and all I could do was sit there and mentally calculate what this was going to cost me in therapy bills.

One of the best realizations she made was about our cat, Matilda.  Four years ago, Meghan woke up on Christmas morning to discover a new kitten under our tree that happened to have the same name as her favorite Roald Dahl book.  Now she knew that Santa had no part in giving her that cute, little furball.

“YOU found Matilda?” she asked.

“Yes!” I finally blurted out like a criminal who had reached the breaking point during a prolonged interrogation.  “And you have no idea how hard it is to find a kitten in winter!  The damn cats only mate in the spring!!  I had to visit half a dozen animal shelters before I found her and then I had to hide her at Grandma’s house until you went to bed on Christmas eve, and then…” I babbled on until the whole sordid story was told, and then we sat there in silence for a while.

It was my fervent wish that Meghan would grow to appreciate all the trouble my husband and I had gone through to create this fantastical ruse, and how difficult it was to maintain for so long.  But I knew that wish wasn’t going to come true anytime soon.   The few days that followed (what will now be referred to as “the Santa incident”) were spent with her saying things like, “I can’t believe you lied to me” and me feeling like Mommy Dearest right after she beat Christina with a wire hanger.

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I guess we know who’ll be at the top of Santa’s naughty list this year…. will any of you be joining me?