Monday, December 2, 2013

Mamas, Don't Judge One Another

 Our two elves, Buddy and Jovie, returned over the weekend. Buddy showed up to our house four or five years ago for the first time. I remember seeing the book Elf on the Shelf when it first came out. I knew people with kids younger than mine that had one of Santa's elves come to visit their house daily to check up on everyone to see if they were being naughty or nice. My first reaction was, I don't have the time for this, this is just another thing I'll have to do during the Christmas season, my kids weren't little toddlers anymore, they won't be into this. But then, one year my thought process changed. I can't remember if one of the kids had asked about the Elf on the Shelf or if it was something else that changed my thought process, but instead of thinking, "Oh, my kids are too old for this," it changed to, "Let's try to keep them young for a little bit longer." And so I found myself with An Elf on the Shelf in my house and my kids LOVED it.

 My kids named him Buddy after the movie Elf. Just like most of us, we are HUGE Elf movie fans. When we go into New York City during Christmas break, everything is a reference to the movie, Ray's Pizza on 11th, the Empire State Building, crossing the street like Buddy, and one year, Shannon even ran into a Starbucks and yelled, "CONGRATULATIONS, you did it, World's Best Cup of Coffee!!!!" Shannon talked about doing it for days. I did not think she was going to really do it or I would have gone into the Starbucks and videoed it. But there we were on the streets on New York City one minute, and the next, she was inside a Starbucks. Shannon also loves candy canes, I mean really loves candy canes! She stock piles boxes and boxes of them in her closet so that she can have them throughout the year. She brings boxes to school and hands them out in the hall during class change. She has also brought them to New York City and randomly handed them out during the day. Shannon, decorated our whole house this weekend, except for the tree that we did together as a family. Shannon is a Santa Elf.

But when it comes to the Elf, there seems to be lovers and haters. I was never a hater, but I do remember thinking, I don't have time for o n e…m o r e…t h i n g! But, I cannot tell you how much fun, my whole family has with Buddy and now Jovie. Jovie showed up last year to help Buddy keep an eye on all the mischief the Nealon kiddies can get into. At first, Buddy just moved around from place to place, but like so many other elves, they started having a bit more fun with the kids, planting candy cane gardens, decorating ice cream cones to look like Christmas trees, and sometimes warning the Nealon kiddies that they better shape up when they had a few rough days. What started out as "one more thing" to do, has turned into our own family tradition. 

Now, I know not everyone loves the Elf on the Shelf. I have heard a lot of comments about how creepy the whole thing is, an elf moving around your house from place to place. Maybe if my kids were younger when Buddy first arrived, they would have been "creeped out" by him. My kids are actually terrified of leprechauns, really truly terrified. Sleep in my bed on St. Patrick's Day terrified. For years Shannon was convinced that she saw them walking around her room and when Molly was a preschooler, I had to tell her teachers to tone down the leprechaun talk because she was so scared.  So I get if little ones don't embrace the Elf on the Shelf. 

But the thing is, all of us moms try to do the best we can, whatever that may be. There are some nights that my kids are lucky to get a dinner out of me, except for that one night when it was 9:30 and I told them to go to bed and one of them said, "But wait, we didn't have dinner!?!" And they were right, some how in our busy evening, I truly forgot to feed them. But then there are other moms that do every idea they see on Pinterest, whether it's that new recipe they saw for dinner, a craft idea to do with the kids, or a new Christmas cookie recipe that you know took hours to decorate and if you ever attempted to do it, it would never look like the Pinterest picture. My point is, whether your kids are lucky to get dinner and have on clean underwear or whether you are the mom that does all the Pinterest crafts, both are okay and we should try not to judge each other. Whether you're the mom that sent out her Christmas cards before Thanksgiving or you're the mom that just hopes that the cards arrive by New Year's, it's all good. Whether you're the mom that has all her presents wrapped perfectly in coordinated paper, or you're the mom that is scrounging on the floor at the bottom of the closet looking through old gift bags to get that last present wrapped minutes before you walk out the door with it, it's all good. I myself, go back and forth. Sometimes I gets bursts of creativity and feel like I can do it all, and then there are days my kids get Spaghettio's for dinner. It's all good.

For me, being a mom at Christmas time is all about making memories for my kids, so whether you are making those memories with an Elf on the Shelf or with other family traditions, it's all good. For this mama, if an Elf on the Shelf keeps my kids young at heart just a little bit longer, than I'm a fan. To my friends that have elves visit them, I love seeing all the pictures of what they are doing. And to my friends that have other family traditions at Christmas time, just sit back and enjoy all the pics you'll see on Facebook or just keep on scrolling down your newsfeed and don't "like" the pics, it's all good. 

Buddy and Jovie have arrived 2013.

 It all started with a book, the authors are a mother daughter team that wanted to share their own family tradition.

 "Small acts of kindness will not be loss."

"Let's make it a game."

Some pics from 2012

Jovie arrived for the first time last year.

 The Nealons still visit Santa…why wouldn't you?

All wearing Elf shirts…Elves stick to the four main food groups.

Elf Ryan

Ryan on his knees…remembering when he used to actually be small enough to go into the play area at the mall.

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