Meet Leppy, my family's version of Elf on the Shelf for St. Paddy's Day

Mar 17, 2015 at 2:05 p.m. ET

We've got an infestation going on over here, leprechaun! No traps or powder or pest control will get rid of him either. Only time and the Queen of Spring, who banishes him to the great outdoors on the first day of spring, will cure this problem.

Our leprechaun troubles began way back when my sister and I were young girls; one year our milk was green... simple and sneaky, that darn leprechaun turned our milk green every year after that! Soon enough I had my first son, and when he was 3 or 4 (he's 22 now... OK wow, how did the time go so fast?) that darn leprechaun came back, making our milk green every single year. My son loved the idea that the milk was green; he had no desire to find or catch the leprechaun, he just enjoyed the silliness. And as children do, he grew up and his belief in magic gave way to cell phones and girls and cars. Luckily two more boys came along and once they got to be old enough I dyed... oops, the leprechaun made the milk green. I thought it would be a silly fun way to spread that old magic that had tickled me, my sister and my oldest son.

I was wrong.

Image: Laura Sampson

Look at that face! This child was not amused, he was mad. The boys refused to drink the green milk and instead they set out to trap him. And that was six years ago. In those six years they've built every sort of contraption to catch him and they often do catch him, tie him up, build block jails to keep him under control and he always, always gloriously escapes. For the first year we never saw the leprechaun, but then the next year a little felted leprechaun was found sneaking off with someone's special foreign coin; our leprechaun had arrived and the game was on.

Image: Laura Sampson

Now you'd think that St. Patrick's Day would be the ultimate day of trouble, but often it's the days leading up that cause the most trouble; phones have disappeared, tooth fairy money is stolen, any chocolate coins the boys happen to have get pilfered. It's always about finding the stash the leprechaun made and foiling his nefarious plans. He never wins, just kicks up enough trouble to help move the month of March along towards spring, because by the time March hits we've had a full-on Alaska winter (read: snow) for five months and we're done. So for us, the magic of a Leprechaun invasion means there is something fun to look for, magic in the air, plots to build elaborate traps and plots to foil those elaborate plans. It's become a tradition where none truly existed before and it's a simple joy.

Our kids are growing up now, and instead of losing interest they're actually starting to move Leppy, as we call him, and create their own leprechaun scenarios for the other one to find. I know it will come to an end soon and I think I'll be OK with that; we've had so much fun with it, I just know that when they have their own kids leprechaun hunting will once again be full steam ahead.

Image: LVRee/Getty Images