OLATHE, Kan. -- It's Elf on the Shelf in real life!
Declan Leary dressed up the mischievous little elf to surprise his mother and cousins after a rough year for his family.
His mother, Courtney, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and had to undergo a double mastectomy. They're staying with relatives in Olathe while she recovers.
"I'm home for the holidays this year! I'm feeling good. I'm cancer free," Courtney said.
On Monday morning, she shared a photo of Declan, dressed up like Elf on the Shelf to cheer her up.
"He's an inspiration. He keeps everything light-hearted. He keeps me on my toes. He'll probably tell you about his Elf on the Shelf, Neil," she said.
Indeed, Neil is what inspired Declan to get up on the mantle.
"When Neil was trapped in the lantern, we saved him and then he gave us a gift and then I thought I could get up here because there was an open space," Declan said.
Courtney said the love and support from her family and friends keeps her going.
"You have moments of sadness. 'Why me?' That sort of thing," she said. "That's why you really rely on your family and friends to pull you through this."