The Elf on the Shelf is dead.

It’s the second day of December and I know what some of my friends are wondering, where the hell is Ornery? Ornery is our Elf on the Shelf.

Usually by this time, Ornery has already made at least two appearances on my social media. You know what I’m talking about. That small stuffed toy that seemed like such a fun idea when you first started setting him out every night and then quickly grows into a huge pain in the butt.

Ornery made his first appearance at our house back in December 2010. He brought them a special LEGO Advent Calendar straight from the North Pole.

For the last five years, Ornery has been quite the character. He has done all kinds of silly things. The first year I wasn’t good about taking pictures of all of Ornery’s escapades, but by 2011 I was flooding my social media with Ornery updates. With the first Ornery post of the Christmas season, friends and family were replying with messages like, “Yay! He’s back!” and “I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble Ornery gets into this year.” The pressure I felt for Ornery to perform was real even though he wasn’t.We read the book, we named him Ornery, and we anticipated all of the shenanigans that would soon be a regular part of our Christmas season.

My kids loved it. Loved waking up to see where Ornery was each morning. And our elf didn’t just move to new locations. No, our elf moved to new locations and created havoc and chaos and fun wherever he was. And I was doing most of this pre-Pinterest, thank you very much. Here are a few of my favorites:

Using Mama’s lipstick.


Elf golf.


Hugging on Baby Jesus.


Tape issues wrapping their Advent calendars.


That’s a straw in the syrup. Because syrup is everyone’s favorite. And For those of you wondering, yes, I misspelled sugar on purpose.
Elf movie love.


This one was a big hit.


Captured by Ugly Dolls.


Elf jokes.


Got into a special breakfast.


Bedlam with Purple Dinosaur.


Stuck trying to make himself a cocktail.


Pooping marshmallows. Side note: peppermints melt when left in the toilet overnight making it look like the elf might need to see a proctologist.


Minecraft elf.

Last year after Thanksgiving my husband asked me, “You aren’t doing the whole elf again this year are you?”

What?!? Or course I was going to do the elf! Too many people would be disappointed if I didn’t! My oldest had already given me the look that told me that he knew Ornery wasn’t real. But his little brother seemed to believe. That was until this past summer when Palmer started to ask questions. Pressing questions about Santa and the elf.

Palmer: Mom, I know that the tooth fairy isn’t real and the Easter Bunny isn’t real. And leprechauns aren’t real either. Santa is, right? But the elf. I really don’t think the elf is real.

And I left it at that. I didn’t respond. I didn’t make a comment. Because even though it was June, I suddenly saw my out. I saw the possibility that I wouldn’t have to spend 25 nights coming up with some elaborate elf creation. I wasn’t going to ruin the moment by trying to convince him that he still needed to believe.

But how was I going to do it? Was the elf simply not going to show up? Just disappear forever? That didn’t seem right. So what does a mom do when you are looking for these kinds of answers? You get on Pinterest. Unfortunately, Pinterest doesn’t have anything about saying goodbye to an elf…forever. So I improvised.

Ornery arrived with a special LEGO Advent Calendar, so I decided he would go out the same way he came in. The boys are anxiously awaiting the new Star Wars movie (yes, we already have our tickets) so the LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar seemed like the thing to do. Ornery has usually arrived with a letter and this year would be no different. I stayed up late writing a letter that I thought tied it all up nicely with a pretty little bow. Or so I thought.


Palmer: So his spirit is gone and his body is here?
Mom: That’s right.
Palmer: Like when someone goes to Heaven. Their spirit is gone and there’s just a dead body.
Mom: Well…yes…
Palmer: This is just a dead body.
(Bentley smirking the whole time, eye-rolling included.)
Mom: He’s not dead, he went to another family who needed some Christmas spirit.
Palmer: But his dead body is still here. So now we have a dead body in the house.
The next morning…
Palmer: I wonder what Ornery did!
Mom: Buddy, Ornery went to another family. Remember?
Palmer. Oh yeah. (Disappointed face.) The Fosters.
Mom: The Fosters? No…another foster family.
Palmer: What’s a foster family? And who are the Fosters?
Oh good lord. All I wanted was for this damn thing to go away. This was much more involved than I wanted it to be. Now we had dead elf bodies in the house and a whole new discussion about foster families and adoption.
Later that morning as Palmer came down the stairs and passed the boys’ Christmas tree…
Palmer: Mom, there’s a dead body on the tree.
Mom: Yes, Palmer. Yes, there is.

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