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OP-ED: How Elf on the Shelf Ruined My Relationship


Photo by An Errant Knight / CC BY-SA 4.0, Jeff Djevdet / CC BY 2.0, Mark Baylor / CC BY 2.0 (edited)

December 3

It started as a joke. I gave my boyfriend, Matt, an Elf on the Shelf on at the beginning of December to commemorate our first holiday season together. He laughed, I laughed, and we put the Elf on the Shelf on a shelf in his once elf-less room.

December 4

The next day, I was at Matt’s apartment while he went to buy Despicable Me Kraft Mac n’ Cheese from FroGro. I decided to move Elf on the Shelf to a new spot in his room. When he got back, he laughed and asked if I had moved the elf. I denied it, but Matt kept pushing the issue. The more aggressively he asked whether I had moved the elf, the more vehemently I denied it. He decided that maybe one of his roommates had moved it, and we laughed and moved on.

December 5

The next day, Matt had an exam in the morning and was studying in Huntsman all day. But Elf on the Shelf waits for no man, so I went to his apartment, told his roommate I had left my jacket in his room, and moved elf to another spot. I then returned to the library to study for finals. Later that day, Matt texted me and asked again if I had moved the elf. At this point, I saw it really as a power struggle - Matt knew that I had moved the elf, he knew that I knew that he knew that I had moved the elf, but I refused to admit that I had moved the elf.

December 6

Another day, another move. Elf found a new spot to lounge on Matt’s bed. Matt was not amused. He accused me of lying to him about the elf, and suggested that if I couldn’t be truthful about the elf maybe I was hiding something else too. I was offended by the accusation, and asserted that he was being paranoid - and why would I lie about moving the elf? Which, as a reminder, I was in fact lying about.

December 7

On the fourth day, I snuck into Matt’s apartment to move the elf and was unable to find him. Luckily, Amazon has same day delivery for Elf on the Shelf. A new elf, a new spot, a new accusation, a new denial. Matt changed his facebook relationship status to “It’s complicated.”

December 8

Matt went home for the weekend to be free from distractions and get a lot of work done. I too had a lot of work to do. At this point, Elf on the Shelf had become a bit of an obsession. I ordered 300 Elf on the Shelf toys for $0.50 apiece, sacrificing my entire budget for Christmas gifts, and carefully used a sharpie to write “Matt” on every elf’s shirt. I then meticulously placed each toy in Matt's room, along with a single white rose on his pillow.

December 9

Matt and I exchanged a few passive aggressive text messages. No noteworthy events occurred, as he was still at home.

December 10

Matt's train came into 30th Street Station at EST 21:35. At 21:55, he texted me: “We’re done.”