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Dear Elf on the Shelf,

You've been with our family for a few years, so you know by now that I love Christmas. I really do. I love everything about it, in fact.

I start 'keeping an eye out for deals' in August.

I LOVE wrapping Christmas presents.

Matching Christmas PJs are a requirement in my home.

I love it all. But I owe you an apology. Because though I am really good at Christmas, I am really bad at you.

You see, when I brought you into our lives a few years back, I did so with Pinterest grandeur. You were promised endless mornings of creative hilarity and mischievous shenanigans, surrounded by a family in matching sweaters and perfectly warmed cups of hot cocoa.

I even—wait for it—bought a photo album where I planned to document all of your antics year after year. Which I did. For three days.

Because you did not get a Pinterest mom—you got me.

(In my defense, I did save you from being named 'Hairy Elbow' by a creative 3-year-old. Yes, it is your middle name, but at least we landed on 'Hats' as a first name, so that was pretty clutch of me. #Truestory)

But still, I am sorry.

I'm sorry that you sat on the same shelf for four days in a row last year, and that we blamed it on you for being 'tired' and 'silly.' I was the tired and silly one, Hats Hairy Elbow, not you. Thanks for taking the fall.

I'm sorry that my kids are too creeped out by you to let you upstairs while they're sleeping, so you're quarantined to the first floor of our house, probably forever. It's that smile, dude—sorry.

I'm sorry you live in my underwear drawer 11 months out of the year. It's the only place you're safe.

I'm sorry I can't enforce the 'don't touch the elf' rule. If my daughter thought that by touching you she inflicted some kind of injury upon you, it would legit ruin Christmas for the next three years.

I'm sorry for the time I left you in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

I'm sorry that we got a puppy this year, and that he will probably eat you. I promise to invent a tale of true heroism about how you died saving Christmas, while I wait for your replacement elf to be delivered by Amazon.

I'm sorry that your friends all have cute outfits and accessories, but the closest I ever came to that was the time I wrapped dental floss around your torso—the kids thought it was hilarious though.

I am sorry that you will never be featured in blog posts inspiring other elves' charades, and that this, my apology letter, is your 15 minutes of fame.

Because, you got me—I'm not a "I'm sorry for the mess my kids were making memories" kind of mom. I'm more of a "I'm sorry for the mess I was just too darn tired to clean" kind of mom.

And you, Sir Hats Hairy Elbow, have had to bear the burden of that.

But I want you to know that despite it all, we really do love you.

In the chaos of our lives, you remind us that it doesn't have to be perfect to be absolutely magical.

I'm not sure we have ever laughed as hard as when our daughter decided that she wanted to name you Hairy Elbow—that will forever be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Every time I open my underwear drawer and see your little face (albeit a little creepy) I smile, because you instantly make me think about the joy of this time of year, and this tradition that we are making our own—even though I am terrible at it.

When I forget to move you, it's usually because I am exhausted from a full day of getting to be a mom to my awesome kids.

And though your schemes are not in the least elaborate, my children's eyes are still wide with sparkling wonder every morning as they search for you, and their squeals of pure delight when they find you are some of the sweetest sounds I know.


Because the truth is that my kids don't need perfect. They just need me, as I am. Together we are magic enough.

Love,

Mom

P.S. Please try not to let the dog eat you, because in thinking about it, that would also probably ruin Christmas for the next three years.


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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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