For all of the things I love about this time of year, there’s one thing I cannot stand: the complaints about Elf on the Shelf. For those of you who don’t know, the Elf on the Shelf began in 2005 when the book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition was published. The elf comes to homes in December and every night, after the kids are asleep, flies back to the North Pole to tell Santa what’s up. The next morning, the elf returns to a different spot in the house from where it was the day before. The kids are supposed to find the elf, talk to it, but never touch it, as touching the elf makes it lose its magic.
Now, full disclosure, we have an elf. Annabel named our elf “Georgie,” and this is our third year with Georgie hanging around. We emphasize that the elf reports on good behavior, so he’s the bearer of good news instead of a snitch. I have an alarm that goes off on my phone every night that reminds us to move it. And, that’s all we do – move it. So sometimes Georgie hangs out on our wine rack, sometimes he’s on our Christmas tree, other times he’s hanging from clothes pins or picture frames. We spend about 30 seconds on moving it each night – and we didn’t even start moving it until last year.
My Facebook feed is jammed with people who are either sharing elaborate pictures of their elves, or sharing the most mean-spirited, parent-shaming articles about how terrible and creepy the elf is. It annoys the crap out of me. The Elf is supposed to encourage good behavior, Christmas magic, and imagination, things elf-haters apparently lost the day they became adults.
It’s sort of baffling to me why so many adults think it’s creepy…is it because it’s a doll with eyes? If that’s what it is, don’t come to my house, you can’t walk into any room without a dozen doll eyes on you (and half of them talk for no reason). Is it because the doll is supposedly an omnipresent, omniscient being? Because, you know, this elf is just another thing in a lonnnnng line of beings watching our every move. *waves to the NSA* Except, spoiler alert, the elf isn’t real.
Do some people put their elves in all-out scenarios every night? Yep! And it looks like a lot of work to an outsider. It might be, it might not be, but it doesn’t matter because guess what? Putting the elf in a situation every day is not required. It isn’t in the book, you don’t have to do it. Who cares if your kids’ friends have crazy elves? You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Annabel’s best buddy at school is having a petting zoo birthday party but there’s no way in hell I am having one at our house. I can’t be around Llamas again.
My point is it’s on us, as parents, to manage the expectations of our own children. When Annie wants to know why our elf just moves around the house, but Lizzie’s elf eats tiny donuts and plays video games and has snowball fights, I just say, “Because that’s her elf at her house. Our elf is different. Eat your breakfast.”
And friendly reminder, the elf itself isn’t even a required Christmas activity! It actually has nothing to do with Christmas. I’m rusty on the Bible but unless the Elf’s real name is Matthew, Luke, Mark, or John, I don’t think it was even mentioned (I guess it could have been one of the wisemen…I should google it). I’m pretty sure most church officials don’t even know about Elf on the Shelf. I mean, the new Pope is pretty progressive so I guess there’s a chance he might like, read a tweet about the elf, but I’m pretty sure he’s mostly going to be praying about Jesus and our sins.
So do what makes you happy, and don’t do the other stuff. But don’t crap on the people who do things differently. It’s the holidays, we’re supposed to be nice to each other. Fa la la la la, to each their own.