Confessions of a Shelf-Elf Mom

by Lindsay Franklin

 

My name is Lindsay, and I’m an Elf on the Shelf mom. This is where you all give a resounding chorus of “Hi, Lindsay!” and then we discuss the tribulations of recovering from shelf-elfdom.

Except I’m not in recovery. I love my elf. Her name is Wendy, and we have excellent adventures together. Like this one:

wendy-with-killer-bunny

That was the time Wendy hopped in my Rabbit of Caerbannog slippers and terrorized the boys’ knight figurines. Or there was this one:

steampunk-wendy

That was when Wendy wanted a steampunk costume just like mine.

Last year, Wendy got super lonely and joined ElfMatch.com (no, it’s not a real thing). She met some interesting characters during her online dating escapades.

wendy-on-elf-match

elf-match-screenshot

But then she met the love of her life, Josepher Twinkletoes.

wendy-and-josephers-first-date

And on Christmas morning, they made it official.

wendys-wedding

Not only do my kids have Wendy and Josepher’s antics to look forward to now, but Josepher’s little sister, Julee, moved in, too. Our house has turned into an elf party this December. Okay, so maybe I do have a little bit of a shelf-elf addiction. Either that, or I really love to tell stories. We’ll go with the latter.

So, what’s my confession? Aside from the fact that the whole world now knows I’m a little nuts … Shelf-elf haters bum me out. For every one social media post I see from a shelf-elfing parent, I see five or six people talking about how much they hate Elf on the Shelf. I’ve even seen suggestions that parents who “inflict” EOTS on their children are bad parents (see also: Santa Claus). Hopefully these things are said tongue-in-cheek, but still. It stings a little when you’re an enthusiastic EOTSer and your own friends loudly voice such opinions.

Here’s the thing: There are innumerable holiday traditions spanning most cultures across the globe. No one family participates in all of them. And that’s totally okay. It’s okay if going caroling is something you can’t imagine skipping. It’s also okay if you wouldn’t be caught dead singing to strangers in freezing weather. It’s okay if there’s that one cheesy Christmas movie that absolutely makes the season feel right to you. And it’s okay if that same movie makes another person want to take a nap.

There’s no single correct way to celebrate the fun, sometimes silly, traditions surrounding Christmas. There’s only what your family enjoys, and each family’s unique culture leads to gloriously different incarnations of the same traditions, as well as eschewing some traditions altogether. My EOTSing doesn’t look quite like my friends’, but I love to see what mischief their little guys get into. And I love to see my non-EOTS friends celebrate in their own special ways. Tree-cutting and trimming, outdoor light displays, candlelight church services, over-the-top décor, subtle décor, even no décor and a more solemn take on the season.

My Christmas wish? That we allow our friends (and strangers) the space to enjoy the holidays with their families the way they deem best. Because it’s all just fluff surrounding the core of Christmas—and that core has nothing to do with trees, tins of cookies, twinkle lights, or Toys R Us. So why hate on each other’s traditions? Ain’t nobody got time for that sort of Christmas negativity.

What is your family’s favorite Christmas tradition?

 

 

l-franklin-headshotAuthor Bio:

Lindsay Franklin is an award-winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mother of three. Her debut fantasy novel and first book of devotionals for young women both release in 2017. She managed the flash fiction mayhem for two years at Splickety Publishing Group as Senior Operations Manager, is a Bible college student, and has taught fiction to homeschooled junior high and high school students. She may or may not be addicted to organic coffee. Don’t tell anyone. Connect with Lindsay on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, or her website. You can also follow her wombat on Instagram. Yeah, you read that right.

A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 4

A Spekkie Christmas (2)Christmas is a time steeped in tradition–religious, cultural, and family tradition! I don’t think too many families celebrate Christmas just alike. And that’s what makes this month so unique and fun!

At our house, we have started the Family Night Box tradition on Christmas Eve. Kind of like the “open one present” tradition both my husband and I had on Christmas Eve growing up, our family opens up the Family Night Box, which includes new PJs for everyone and either a family movie or family game. (I try to alternate–this year will be a game!)

So, I just had to know how my spekkie friends celebrate their Christmas season and what makes their traditions unique.

 

When I was a kid, one of our family traditions was making lefse, a Norwegian flatbread. Every Christmas we would make a batch, then eat it with butter and sugar, rolled up or cut into triangles and served with tea. Both sides of my family would serve this traditional Norwegian food as part of our heritage. —Morgan Busse

 

It’s pretty standard fare for us to splurge on the Christmas meal. We usually get a beef tenderloin and bake it/grill it up with delicious seasonings. It’s typically a larger, more expensive cut of meat, but it always hits the spot. I am a carnivore, so of course I love it. —Ben Wolf

 

Baking a Birthday cake for Jesus. We get ‘em – so why shouldn’t He? —Josh Hardt

 

My family and I have a specific routine on Christmas Eve. When it gets dark, we heat up some apple cider (or snag a Starbucks), blast Christmas music, and drive around to look at as many Christmas lights as we can in the area. After we return home, we give each other one or two presents that have something to do with Christmas morning be it a new coffee cup or pajamas or when I was little, a new stuffed animal. —Victoria Grace Howell

 

We don’t get to do this much anymore, but every Christmas my family would go out soon after Thanksgiving and get our Christmas tree. No, I’m not talking a lot in town or a plastic tree from the attic, we’d pack up snacks and hot chocolate then head up to the mountains. Then the search would begin for the perfect tree. Those are some of my fondest memories with my family, hiking all over (sometimes in feet of snow) to find that perfect, 12 foot tree (we’ve got tall ceilings). I’m excited that this year I get to participate in this tradition again since I’ll be going home earlier than normal. I’m definitely looking forward to it! —Emilie Hendryx

 

We wrap up a gift for Jesus. It’s an empty box with an imperfect wrapping job to remind us how imperfect we are. Then we put a slit in the top, and every family member writes on a piece of paper what they are going to give to Jesus for the coming year. No one knows what anyone else has written; it’s very personal. Then we put the papers in the box and place the box in the fireplace and light a fire. It’s kind of our burnt offering to God. —S.D. Grimm

 

One tradition we have that dates back to my own childhood is that we allow the children to choose one small gift to open at midnight Christmas Eve. I loved the tradition my parents started and have enjoyed sharing it with my children. —Ronie Kendig

 

At New Year’s Eve, we drop the Christmas Yeti. It’s a stuffed toy that my sister in law brought back from the 2012 Winter Olympics. The end of the year always makes me depressed and melancholy, because I’m naturally pessimistic and tend to focus on things I didn’t accomplish. So my husband came up with dropping the yeti as our own personal ‘New Year’s Eve’ ball. Since then that goofy yeti’s descent has been the main thing that really makes me laugh and not overthink the whole end of the year concept. —Janeen Ippolito

 

What is one unique family tradition YOU have at Christmas time?

 

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A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 3

A SPEKKIE CHRISTMAS (1)I love giving gifts at Christmas time. I’m definitely one of those who agonizes over finding just the right gift that complements family and friends. Sometimes I run out of time or never land on the perfect present. Still, I love watching people open presents–the light in their eyes, the smiles on their faces . . . *happy sigh*

I think the best present I ever received was the year my husband was deploying to Kosovo. He left in October for training, but wasn’t actually going overseas until January. His unit was able to come home for a short Christmas break before heading off. I think that is one of the most special times I got to spend with him.

So, I asked my spekkie writer friends what their best Christmas present ever was, and they had some very unique answers . . .

 

One of my best friends got me How To Write A Children’s Book and Get It Published by Barbara Seuling when I first interested in writing picture books. That was back in 1997. I read that thing over and over! But her support of my dream was the most important. She’s still one of my biggest fans! —Pam Halter

 

I think I was about sixteen, maybe fifteen, when my parents gave me a real desk for Christmas. I’d been asking for one for ages. It had a hutch bookshelf on top. I filled it with all my favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels and writing how-to-books. It made me feel like a real writer to have my own writing desk. —Kristen Stieffel

 

Oh boy. I’ve gotten so many good presents, but one that I still use a lot today is my WACOM Bamboo Tablet which is an artist’s tablet I use for drawing my characters. My mom gave me the tablet and I didn’t expect to get it because it was expensive, but I put it on my list several years ago anyway. I use the tablet so much and it makes drawing so much easier and faster! —Victoria Grace Howell

 

My family is so generous and I can think of many that impacted my life one way or another. But one of my favorites was a hope chest. My parents gave one to me and each of my sisters. Before I was married, I filled it with dishes and cute kitchen things for when I’d get married. Now that I’m married, it holds all 23 of my journals. (Yes, twenty-three.) —Nadine Brandes

 

We brought our newborn daughter home less than 2 days before Christmas. I’m probably required by Proud Daddy Code to say her. —C.W. Briar

 

A hand-made wooden dollhouse from my parents and grandparents. Mom and Dad bought the kit, and Grandma and Grandpa assembled it. It has windows and doors that open and close, and it was painted the same color as our house at the time. It must have been Christmas of 1992. I still have it, and every time I see it, I smile. Such amazing, fond memories of that Christmas morning. I was so surprised. —A.C. Williams

 

The best Christmas present I received happened when I was 16. It was the gift of my mom’s ingenuity and humility. My mom and I were on alone and she had just enough money to pay rent. There wasn’t money for food let along gifts, so I was shocked to receive three gifts that year – a sterling silver swan ring holder, a brass/glass mirrored perfume tray, and earrings, I think. She hadn’t bought any of them. She’d gone through the mall, humiliating herself by filling out credit applications she knew she wouldn’t be approved for (based on income), but with each application, they gave away a gift. And that gift became my Christmas present. She was always creative and ingenious that way. I really miss her. —Ronie Kendig

 

When I was a kid, personal computers weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. When I was ten or twelve or somewhere in there, I woke up on Christmas morning to find two huge boxes sitting amidst all the other presents. One was for me, and the other was for my sister. We tore the paper off and found two brand new desktop computers in the boxes. (My dad was and is a tech geek, so he had the hookup.) —Ben Wolf

 

What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?

 

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A Spekkie Author Christmas Part 2

a spekkie authorChristmas is my favorite time of year–always has been. So many memories . . . Like the time I bought my mom a special book and made her cry, or the time we were moving over Christmas and “decorated” our van, or the first Christmas I spent with my husband. What’s not to love?

So, this week, I asked the speculative fiction authors what their favorite Christmas memory is. As with any group, it’s a fun array of answers!

 

Oh, so many! My siblings and I would stay up all night long reading books in a blanket-tent in our upstairs library, trying to keep the fire going all night long. This was a yearly tradition (that made it tough on Santa since the stockings were over the fire) and cultivated a lot of bonding between me and my siblings. —Nadine Brandes

 

One Christmas my dad made me a mobile of gifts and I got to cut away each one revealing a fun gift. It wasn’t so much the gifts that I liked as it was the thoughtfulness my dad put into it. He has always loved giving gifts and does so with love and care. It reminds me of how God loves us and cares for each one of us with just as much love and care. —E.A. Hendryx

 

One year, I found weird ways to wrap everything. Nothing went into a nice, happy box unless the box was the entirely wrong size and shape for the thing that went into it. I wrapped a necklace after putting it into an empty, plastic tape dispenser. A DVD was taped to the bottom of a shirt box. A shirt was wrapped around a metal coat-hanger bent into a loop. This happened because the previous year, one of my relatives boasted that he could guess what all his presents were, and he was right most of the time. I decided to mess with his head, and everyone else’s. —Cindy Koepp

 

Nearly every year, my mom and my grandma and I would make Christmas candy. We made fudge and peanut butter fudge and toffee cookies and all sorts of treats that we could share with the whole family. Every year, I’d look forward to it because as I got older, I got more responsibility in the kitchen. I used to just fetch ingredients, but then I moved up to stirring pots, and eventually I got to chop nuts. In the last few years, I’m the one in charge of candy making, and it’s my mom and grandma who assist. So it’s pretty cool to see how we’ve come full circle. —A.C. Williams

 

T’was the night before Christmas, and for some reason I was in a shopping cart in the toy section. Whatever I pointed to usually went into the cart. I didn’t really understand this memory until I spoke with my mom. Apparently they had fallen behind in Christmas shopping, so they had us pick out all our presents, wrapped them, and then we unwrapped them the next day! Apparently we were still completely surprised. —Janeen Ippolito

 

When I was in fifth grade, my grandma was diagnosed with advance lung cancer. At the time, my mom was a single mother trying to raise four kids and go to college. But when my grandma was diagnosed, my mom took that semester off to take care of her mother (who was also single). All of our income was tied up in school loans, so when mom took that time off from school, we had no money.

A couple days before Christmas, my grandma passed away. It was a dark time for our family. We had no money for Christmas and we had just buried my grandma. Not only was it going to be a hard Christmas, it looked like there would be no presents under the tree.

Unbeknownst to us, a family member submitted our names to an Angel tree to provide us with gifts. On Christmas Eve, a couple packages showed up with food and presents. We all gathered in my grandma’s tiny house and gave thanks for the generosity of others during our time of need. I’ve experienced many Christmases since then, but I will never forget that one. —Morgan Busse

 

We didn’t start doing the Elf on the Shelf until our kids were older, and the last couple years of elfing have been so fun. Wendy (our elf) gets into lots of mischief. This year, she’s going to be looking for love on some online dating sites. —Lindsay Franklin

What about you? What is YOUR favorite Christmas memory?

 

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A Spekkie Author Christmas

A Spekkie ChristmasSpekkie? What’s a spekkie? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A spekkie is the nickname people at Realm Makers have given speculative fiction writers. What’s speculative fiction? Well, that’s a term that encompasses genres like fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, and the like.

It’s been several years since I delved into the world of speculative fiction. And what an exciting adventure it has been! I’ve met a lot of amazing people who have imaginations as wild as mine–many more so.

For the next few Wednesdays, I thought I’d introduce y’all to the minds and hearts of these unique people through something we all share: Christmas. Each week, I’ll ask a question and share the answers from a few different authors. Some are published, some are not. Some are older, some are barely 18. Some write fantasy, some write sci-fi. All are wonderful people to know.

So, without further ado, here is the question for Week 1:

We’re finally allowed to listen to Christmas music without people looking at us weird! What is your favorite Christmas song and why?

 

I tend to be rather Old School when it comes to religious and holiday stuff. In this case, I’m very Old School. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Lulay Mine Liking,” which had its start in the Medieval era (15th C). Other favorites include “O Holy Night” (1847) and “O Come Emmanuel” (tune: 15th C, words: 1710). —Cindy Koepp

 

Well, it’s hard to stick with just one, but this time I’ll say O Come O Come Emmanuel. When we sang this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, we sang a verse I hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t in our old hymnal:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Kristen Stieffel

 

I like all the songs mere mortals (like me) shouldn’t even attempt to sing: “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.” If I sound like a dying cat singing it, it’s probably one of my favorites. —Lindsay A. Franklin

 

It’s a toss-up between “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night/Night of Silence.” The former because it speaks of simple faith. We all of us are ‘poor boys, too’ – with nothing extravagant to offer God in exchange for the gifts He gives us!

The latter is not only a beautiful song (it gives me chills!); but it speaks in truly tangible ways of the Hope that came in the form of a babe.

“Mary Did you Know?” is a runner-up. It asks poignant questions and really speaks to how little we truly do understand how much God has done for us. —Josh Hardt

 

This is a hard one. I will say it’s not Christmas without the classics such as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. But to choose one song, I think … “O Holy Night.” The flow of the music, each note weaving together and building to a crescendo until you can’t help but sing along albeit out of tune, because who among us non-singing folk can reach those high notes? Or maybe it’s just me. And the message obviously. Contemplating the birth of Christ and why He came. —J.L. Mbewe

 

And last of all . . . me! My favorite Christmas song for a long time was “O Holy Night,” and it is still one of my faves. However, in recent years it was surpassed by “Mary, Did You Know?” That song gives me shivers every time I hear it! Could you imagine being the mother of the Son of God?

 

Thanks to my spekkies for sharing with us today. Next week, we’ll explore the question: What is your favorite Christmas memory? In the meantime . . .

What is YOUR favorite Christmas song?