I don't consider myself a Grinch at all. But I am not a big fan of the current Elf on the Shelf® fad. According to the official website, the little guy is a "special scout elf sent form the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists." Okay, so it's about behavior modification and the age-old threat of coal in their stockings, hanging the threat of Santa over their heads to get the kids to behave because "bad kids don't get presents and good gets get loot for behaving as they should." (There are even "citations" your Elf can issue to your children available on Pinterest. Which reminds me, I'm adding Elf on the Shelf® to the "100 Ways Pinterest is Killing Me Softly" list.) Is this the Christmas spirit we want to perpetuate in our homes? If that is indeed a parent's intent when purchasing the Elf, psychologists proved long ago that this is not an effective or positive tool in behavior management.
And if behavior modification through intimidation is the purpose of the little guy, then why is he often so mischievous? I've seen photos of elves making "snow angels" in spilled flour, wearing mom's bra while dangling from the chandelier, and scrubbing his rear end with the kid's toothbrush. How does such an elf have any right to fly off to tell Santa when your kids have misbehaved?
Scaring the Kids
Not only is the Elf threatening to tattle on your kids, isn't it a frightening thought even to adults that there is a strange little "Big Brother" doll watching your every move that mysteriously moves around your house, messing with your stuff while you are sleeping? Sounds like the makings of a Holiday horror movie. One of my mommy friend's child was so afraid of their Elf, that he would not be in the same room the Elf. Ever. My friend felt terrible that what she had intended as a cute gag traumatized her child that Christmas and she sent the elf back to the North Pole never to return.
Spirit of Christmas?
Every year when the Christmas season rolls around, we hear a lot of "Remember the reason for the season." As annoying as that little rhyme may be, it does hold truth for my family. We have many family Christmas traditions, from attending advent services and Lovefeasts and holding advent devotions each night of December, to adopting an "angel tree" child in need, and decorating the tree together to the sounds of our favorite Christmas albums while drinking hot chocolate (no matter how warm the temperature outside!) and telling the story of the many handmade, gifted and travel souvenir ornaments as we hang them on the tree.
In thoughtfully considering our Christmas activities, I decided that if I'm going to add another tradition to our long to-do list to make the season bright, it had better fit one or more of the following criteria:
1) Make us more mindful of the Christ Child
2) Help those less fortunate
3) Bring our family closer together
This little Elf guy does not do any of those things. In fact, he instead adds anxiety to an already hectic season. From the "Oops! I forgot to move him last night!" To scouring Pinterest Elf on the Shelf ® boards to find the cutest creative ideas for Elf activity, only to then compare our Elf photos to others on Facebook and feel like we've come up short. It would be an unnecessary addition of stress to my life.
I just don't have time for that.
That said, if you do have time for Elf shenanigans in your home, here is a link to a blog post by a mom who takes a different approach with their family Elf, entitled "Jesus, Santa & the Elf on the Shelf."
May you make many happy memories together as a family, however you choose to celebrate. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!