Tag Archive | holidays

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.

 

Passed My Kid’s Lips and Straight to My Hips

For once, I’m going to side with all of the uber-conservative Christians of the world and say that Halloween is nothing but pure evil – not because all the gory costumes and creeping about late at night is a sin against God, but because the mounds of candy left lying around my house is a sin against my waistline.  Candy is the devil’s work.  Can I get an AMEN, sister?!

No, not THAT Candy…. oh, never mind.

I’m not one of those girls who is naturally thin – hell, I’m not even UNnaturally thin.  If you are one of those naturally thin people, I’m envious…. and maybe a little resentful.  But if you have ever uttered the phrase, “No matter what I eat, I just can’t seem to gain any weight”, you should stop reading this blog entry.  Seriously, STOP.  Now go find a blog that discusses issues you can relate to – like how miserable it is for you to have to shop in the junior’s department because you’re too skinny to fit into adult-sized clothes.

Are they gone?  Good.  Moving on….

I have to cover miles of rubberized road on my treadmill and eat lettuce like a ravenous rabbit in order to lose weight.  And if I’m not hyper-vigilant about what I’m putting in my mouth, I can pack on five or ten pounds in less time than it takes you to shout, “Twinkies!”  I have learned through years and years of trial and error (mostly error), which dieting tools work for me and which ones don’t – Weight Watchers is one of the things that work.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Jennifer Hudson on you, and start singing, “It’s a New Day” or preach the “Believe, because it works” slogan – you get enough of that from all the commercial breaks on TV.  What she’s saying is true, but who wants to hear it when it’s midnight, and you have a face full of Little Debbie snack cakes?

I don’t care how much I believe – my ass will NEVER fit into that little black dress.

Being on Weight Watchers is effective but it isn’t always easy, especially when there’s a holiday involved.  Halloween is one of many dietary saboteurs lurking on the calendar – the worst one, in my opinion.  Halloween can become Halloweek or even Hallomonth because the holiday lingers as long as there’s still candy in the house.

Before I had kids, I had a solid Halloween strategy that helped keep the holiday pounds off – I bought candy I hate to eat for the trick-or-treaters that came around, so that the leftovers posed no temptation to me the next day.  Granted, it was stuff the trick-or-treaters probably hated too, but they should be grateful I wasn’t handing out fistfuls of broccoli.  We’ve all been to those houses….

But that dietary trick does me no good now because I have two kids out scouring the neighborhood for goodies, and bringing back all the candy I purposefully didn’t buy.  When they come home after hours of pounding the pavement, the first thing they do is dump their spoils out onto the living room rug and decide what to keep and what to give away.  Inevitably, the throw away pile contains all of my favorites – Almond Joy, Snickers, and Milky Way bars.  What my unenlightened children see as inedible, I see as dozens of little “fun size” reasons I won’t be able to zip up my jeans in a week.

The Weight Watchers program assigns every food item a point value, and the combination of your age, gender and weight determines how many points you get per day; I’m allowed 26 points.  There seems to be a direct correlation between how yummy a food is and its point value – the tastier the food, the higher the points.  It’s no surprise that Brussels sprouts are 0 points, and birthday cake is 12 points.  TWELVE POINTS! Guess how much a fun-size candy bar is worth?  2 points.  Sounds harmless enough, right?  It would be if I were even remotely capable of stopping at just one or two.

Can you stop at just one?  For those of you that just said yes, I told you to stop reading this blog entry…. you thin people can’t fool me.

On a day like Halloween, my 26 points don’t seem to go very far.  All the coping skills Weight Watchers taught me vanishes the moment I hear those chocolaty sirens calling to me from inside my children’s trick-or-treat bags.  I can usually last the first few hours without caving into the temptation, but when night falls the rationalizations begin…

The candy is just going to go to waste if I don’t eat it.  How can I waste food when there are so many starving children in the world?  Maybe I should mail them the candy.  No, that won’t work, it would probably get all melty and gross by the time it got there.  Besides, if they’re too poor to buy food, what are the chances they have a good dental plan?  I don’t want to give starving kids cavities.  How irresponsible would THAT be?  I’ll donate to heifer.org and give them a cow instead.  Milk is better for teeth…. oooo, speaking of milk – that would go great with a couple of fun-size Snickers….”

The American Dental Association reports that 2 out of 3 dentists
recommend cows instead of candy bars.

Eating half a dozen candy bars becomes far less gluttonous when you think you’re selflessly ridding the world of tooth decay.  Of course, that same line of thinking will probably end up buying me a one-way ticket to Wilford Brimley town too – a sad place where nothing but the syringes and test strips are fun-size.

I’m thankful that this sugar-coated, willpower crushing holiday only comes once a year.  But even when the Halloween treats run out, I know there is another dietary hurdle looming close on the horizon – instead of chocolate, this one will be made of stuffing and apple pie…..

This is my Thanksgiving autobiography – originally, it was going to be entitled “Fuck the Turkey”
but the editor didn’t want people thinking the book was about turkey porn.