COLUMN: A shelf elf and other Destin holiday traditions

Susan Moody, Emerald Coast Insider

I am not elf enough. There, I said it.

For those readers not in the midst of child rearing and raising, there has been some heated conversation in the blogosphere about “Elf on the Shelf.” As you may know, Elf on the Shelf is a new tradition for many families — a little elf appears at your house around the time your holiday decorations come down from the attic.

This elf, which is given a name, then spends the Christmas season keeping tabs on your kids and reporting back to Santa. Part of the fun in the whole Elf on the Shelf experience is that your elf moves every single night, and your kids have to look for him or her in the morning. The concept is fun and easy to manage.

Except when it isn’t.

With the increased use of social media and the new found popularity of Pinterest, Elf on the Shelf has taken on a life of its own. Creative parents and caregivers stage elaborate tableaus where their elf is baking cookies, creating art, and cooking breakfast. The whole elf phenomena spawned some “bad elf” websites, and the very adult oriented “naughty elf” Pinterest boards. While fun to watch, these elf masterpieces can be a little intimidating for those of us whose greatest elf achievement is remembering to move it every night.

Our elf, whose name is Shelf doesn’t bake brownies or attempt to make pancakes, leaving a trail of sprinkles to be cleaned the next morning. Shelf doesn’t redecorate the Barbie Playhouse or swim a marshmallow pool. In a limited burst of creativity, last year, due mostly to Jennings’s arrival home for college, he fished for some goldfish with a candy cane and played a mean hand of Uno with Buzz Lightyear and a dinosaur. Our elf, Shelf, generally hangs out in some potted poinsettias, peeks around photos, hides in stockings, and occasionally ends up in the manager scene.

I may not be elf enough, but I’m no Scrooge either.

Our holiday traditions begin the day after Thanksgiving, when all the music in the house and car turns to Christmas music. Classical, contemporary, and even a little “Christmas in Hollis” help make our days merry and bright.

The tree goes up, the snow globe is assembled and the crèche comes out. Our manager scene, which belonged to my grandmother, has been the source of enjoyment for my family since my mom was a little girl. Inevitably, the Baby Jesus’ head gets chipped, a shepherd hitches a ride in a Hot Wheels car, and a poor angel requires emergency surgery with some glitter glue to reattach what is surely lead paint infused wings.

All of our own personal traditions aside, my favorite thing about the Christmas season in Destin is the sense of community and holiday fun that makes it’s way into daily life. This week certainly kick starts the season for many of us.

First up is the Sounds of the Season Holiday Concert at Village Baptist Church Friday night. For the price of an unwrapped toy, you can hear some of Destin’s best church choirs and musicians celebrating the music of Christmas. Saturday, kids of all ages will gather in the parking lot at Old Time Pottery in preparation for the annual Christmas Parade. We’ll be there, tossing trinkets and candy canes along the way, enjoying seeing our friends and neighbors decked in the very best Santa hats and reindeer ears.

Capping off the weekend is the 26th Annual Lighted Boat Parade along the harbor. Hosted by the Destin History and Fishing Museum, the Lighted Boat Parade reminds me of a giant, moving Light Bright. Celebrity judges will award a number of prizes, including the coveted “Best in Show Award.” Any watercraft is eligible to “deck their hulls,” so contact the Destin Fishing Museum for more information.

There are plenty of holiday activities along the Emerald Coast, all designed to get you in the holiday spirit. From angel trees and Toys for Tots drives to Christmas concerts and parades, let’s all grab a mug of good cheer and celebrate the season. Maybe I’ll even make one for Shelf.

Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at