Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2015, but the Elf on the Shelf struggle is still real.
“Poor Buddy fell and broke his leg, he has strict orders from Santa not to move for two weeks! Parenting WIN!!” she wrote above the picture of Buddy with a leg sporting a bright yellow cast, which was signed by Santa himself.
Boles’ picture was shared by more than 31,000 people on Facebook and was made into a meme using her caption.
But while most parents are applauding Boles and her husband, Justin, for the idea, some of the feedback to her picture has been negative, which surprised her. “What’s the fun in that?” one Facebook commenter said. “Why even get one then?” scoffed another.
There’s more to this elf’s story than meets the eye, though.
“My 4-year-old son has autism and has a hard time following the rule about kids touching him, as clearly stated in the book, so I am limited on my options on where he can move,” explains Boles. “Also, we were headed out of town for my daughter’s soccer tournament and my younger daughter and son were staying with grandparents. Instead of trying to come up with an excuse why Buddy wasn't coming, we decided he should break his leg!”
Boles’s husband left her children — daughters Hannah and Emma, ages 9 and 6, as well as 4-year-old Case — a note from Buddy explaining that he had fallen off a star and needed two weeks to heal. In the meantime, he wrote, Santa himself would be coming every night to collect Buddy’s report, so it would be important for the Boles children to go to bed on time so they wouldn’t accidentally see Santa.
“The kids thought it was great! My younger daughter has made him get well cards daily, and my older one takes a daily selfie with him. It worked great, and he is safe from the toxic hands of the 4-year-old,” says Boles.
Other parents have been employing similar tactics this year, including Julie Blixen, whose family elf came down with a stomach flu that slowed him down:
Boles said that when the two weeks of healing are up, Buddy the Elf will be “back to making mischief again.” In the meantime, she and her husband don’t have to remember to move him each night.
We’re pretty sure Courtney and Justin Boles just won Christmas.