OPINION COLUMNS

Return to sender: Sending the family elf back to the North Pole

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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Our Elf on a Shelf has been laid off.

It was a tough conversation, but I had to let Chisbee go. He simply wasn’t working very hard anymore; he’d lost his zest for the holiday hoopla.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

When he first came to our family several years ago, he was full of creative ideas and made an effort to surprise the kids. He hand-delivered their letters to Santa and occasionally left them personal notes.

But the last few years he just phoned it in.

There were days he did nothing. Didn’t even move.

Or he put his work off until the last minute, therefore not having time to do anything elaborate. For example, one day he would be burrowed in the Christmas tree, and the next morning he would have moved no farther than the next branch. I couldn’t help but be disappointed. That’s the best he could come up with?

Then there were the days he went to the opposite extreme. One night he gorged himself on Christmas candy. We woke to find him semi-conscious, sprawled in the kitchen windowsill surrounded by empty wrappers and chocolate smeared across his face. What a terrible example, not to mention, that candy was for the children!

He brought girls into the house and even took them on dates while on the clock. We caught him frolicking with Barbie early one morning. There they were – no shame – riding a bicycle built for two along the bar in the kitchen. We put a stop to that before the kids got up. Sheesh.

Besides being overindulgent, his practical jokes had gone too far. He thought it was hilarious to dump out flour and then write messages in it. But he never cleaned it up. I always had to. In fact, I had to clean up most of his messes – Legos scattered over the floor, marker mustaches on framed portraits and unrolled toilet paper.

One morning his practical jokes went too far. We woke to find our Christmas stockings gone and hanging in their place – our underwear. I was mortified. The worst part was Chisbee seemed so pleased with himself, that silly grin plastered on his face. He simply didn’t understand why this would be embarrassing.

By the end of his tenure with the Tribes, I’d had enough of his antics. Half the time he didn’t try, and when he did put forth a little effort, his mischevious plot resulted in a 30-minute discussion with the kids about why they couldn’t act like Chisbee.

I was constantly having to check and make sure he’d completed his job. I’d lay down in bed and just as I was dozing off for the night, bolt upright, fear coursing through my veins, at the thought of waking to find him in the exact same place.

He was an experienced elf; I shouldn’t have had to tell him every little thing to do!

In the end, he was creating a stressful holiday season, so I let him go.

He didn’t make the Christmas cut.

Kristen Tribe is assistant publisher of the Messenger.

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