Dec 12, 2014

Stop Bullying the Elf; an Elf on the Shelf Defense Post

Last year I started the Elf on the Shelf Holiday tradition with my girls because I thought it was the cutest idea.  I love anything creative and set off with many different ideas for these two little mischief-makers.  This tradition ended up being a great one with our family and began being a whole family tradition every December morning.  Before we did anything else, we would go find out what kind of trouble the elves were getting into and see if they left any little goodies or notes while they came to visit.  This is a tradition that we are continuing this year and plan on continuing every year to follow until the girls are too old for Elfie and Sofia. 

Now I know there are many people who dislike the Elf on the Shelf tradition and I completely understand the reasons they note.  Some think they're creepy, some don't like the idea of a magical elf that comes straight from the North Pole to observe children and report back to Santa, some don't want their children to have the emotional trauma of the elf leaving on Christmas Eve and some just think the elf is a stupid idea all together.  So in this post, I will address some of these things and voice my opinion about the now notorious elf that makes his appearance the day after Thanksgiving. 

The Elves are creepy...

I understand that many people think that the elves are creepy, but I think they're cute in a vintage and whimsical sort of way.  My mom and grandma had small elves from the 70's, when I was growing up, that resembled an older version of these elves, so maybe they're somehow nostalgic for me.

But if you think about it, how much more creepy can these Elves be than the big fat man who comes down your chimney on Christmas Eve, eats your cookies, drinks your milk and leaves you presents?  I think the thought of Santa being a peeping tom and seeing every move you make leading up to Christmas is a lot creepier than a magical elf... That's like a glorified home invasion, for God's sakes! Sure Santa gives you presents...but we terrify our kids for a hot second with the story of how Santa leaves them presents.  At least I was a little terrified at first when I was a child...

So in my mind, Elf on the Shelf is equivalently creepy to Santa.

I don't like lying to my child...

Wait...did you say that you don't like lying to your child?  What about that time you let them dress themselves and they ended up looking like a hot mess?  I'm sure you said they looked wonderful.  What about the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa?  You may say that you're keeping the magic alive, but the Elf on the Shelf is magic too.  

I'm sure you tell your child(ren) little white lies as we all do!  This is basically the same thing.  You're just fibbing to your child to keep the magic of the Holiday season and Elf on the Shelf alive.  If you say that you don't lie to your child, you're lying to yourself right there.  Lying through your teeth!  Give up the perfect parent act -- no parent is perfect!

I don't want an elf to keep my kid's behavior in check...

This one I do completely understand.  Part of the idea is that the elf is Santa's Eyes while he is busy preparing for Christmas and some parents do use the elf as a bribe (or a threat) to keep their kid's behavior in check.  I'm not going to lie, I do.  I use that elf to my advantage when I need to.

Fighting with your sister?  The elves are watching!

Not cleaning your room when I ask for the 10th time?  The elves are watching!

Arguing with me because you don't want to do your math homework? The damn elves are watching!

Those little plastic black/blue eyes stare right into their souls and make them question their behavior every single time!  Okay, maybe not quite...Sometimes it works and sometimes my nine year old laughs in my face, but your bet your ass I use those elves to my advantage; or at least try to.  Is it the proper thing to do? Probably not, but whatever maximizes the peace in my home, I'm open to.

But this isn't what everyone does.  You don't have to say that the elf reports back to Santa, you don't have to threaten or bribe your kids; every parent is different.  You can simply use the Elf on the Shelf as a fun way to have a scavenger hunt every morning.  You can say the elf came to visit for the Holiday season to play hide and seek, I don't know! The point I'm trying to make is, you don't have to use the elf as a behavior tool.

I don't have the time.

Look, I have two jobs plus my own business, I am a single mother of two kids, I help with homework, I cook and I also help out my mother who is disabled and I still have time for the elves.  Maybe I don't get as creative as some other people and maybe I don't go all out, but we still have the tradition.  

There are many nights I wake up in a cold sweat and panic, grabbing my phone to make sure it isn't time for the kids to wake up because I forgot to move the elves.  I'm usually quietly running down the stairs in the dark, trying not to stumble and break my ass, to move the elves and think of semi-creative ways to place them while I'm still half asleep.  The sad part is, I do have an alarm on my phone at 11pm every night to move the elves.  Sometimes I ignore the alarm telling myself that I will move them later on before I go to bed, sometimes I actually go to sleep early (what?!) and sleep through the alarm.  

If you have the time to sit down and write a whole post about how you don't have time for the Elf on the Shelf, you have time to move the elf.

It's too commercialized...

Welcome to Christmas, have you been here before?  Come on, the whole idea of Christmas is commercialized.  It's all about the sales, the shopping, the decorations, who can get the better presents, the new trends every year... The whole basic idea of what Christmas used to be is different now.  

Do you have one of the older more vintage elves at home? Use that.  Go to the Goodwill store, I'm sure you can find one very cheap. Go to the dollar store and pick up a small plush elf doll -- that works too!  I've seen people using non official Elf on the Shelf elves as Santa's helpers as well.  You don't need to get the actual elf.  

Truth be told, I had two of our old, floppy and vintage elves from when I was a kid that I almost used as the Elves.  The only reason we have authentic Elves is because my mom and grandma decided to put their money (and coupons) together and get us the two elves.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have purchased them by myself!  

It's too much work.

Yes, yes it is.

Especially when you buy a small batch of flour and spread it all over your kitchen table to make elf snow angels.  Or when you stick a bunch of Christmas bows all over your house and blame it on the elves.  Or...when you take the time to set up elaborate scenes of elves playing Scrabble with the barbies, or elves roasting marshmallows over a candle...

It's a hell of a lot of work.

But it doesn't have to be.  You don't have time to make a mess or clean it up? Then don't.  You can simply have the elf bring a little surprise (lollipop, candy bar, sheet of stickers) or write a Christmas countdown on a whiteboard or even just surprise the kids in a new place every single day.  There's no rule that states that you must take the time to set up elaborate scenes and schemes for the elves.  To each parent their own...

But I just don't want to!

There we go!  Now we're talking!

Admitting it is the first step to recovery and I'll have a crap load of respect for you if you're just honest about not wanting to do this.  

This might go under the category of Not judging a book by it's cover because I've met many moms who couldn't stand this tradition until they tried it for themselves.

But at least you're being honest and not trashing an intimate object disguised as a magical elf.