|An Elf so bad at being punctual|
Santa apparently exiled him.
The topic of the Elf on the Shelf came up recently in a discussion with good friends of ours who bought an Elf for their child against their better instincts, fearing that their child would be the only one of his friends who didn't have this tradition. A kind of "keeping up with the Elveses".
To which I said: We aren't getting an Elf on the Shelf. Sorry kids, hate to break it to you, but we're not..
And not because I'm being a humbug. I'm probably one of the biggest pro-Christmas people you'll ever meet. My wife and I start with the Christmas movies and music as early as possible.
But back to the Elf. Let’s forget for a minute that the thing looks like a 1950s toy factory reject. I’m even willing to forgo the whole creepy “he watches us when we sleep” thing because, well, isn’t that what we tell kids about Santa?
Let’s forget all that. This isn’t a “Christmas tradition.” At 8-years-old, it is barely a "tradition" at all. People can't wait to bash Valentine’s Day as a made-up “Hallmark Holiday,” but they gladly latch on to the Elf on the Shelf, because others have one. All for what? So that already time-starved parents can move him every night so that it seems like he reported back to Santa?
Just how bad at his job is this damn Elf that he can't get back on the shelf before the kids get up?
|Seriously. Not going to happen|
And then there is the mischief. There is an entire calender built around the mischievous things the Elf is supposed to do. One pose requires parents pour sugar all over a table so that the Elf can make snow angels; another has the Elf drape toiler paper all over the Christmas tree.
Isn't the whole purpose of the Elf to keep the kids in line? How he is he going to do that when he so clearly enjoys mischief? And how am I going to keep kids - who already enjoy throwing food around entirely too much - from misbehaving when I clearly can't control the Elf. When your kid blames the Elf for the Christmas-tree art mural now decorating your living room wall, well, good luck explaining why the Elf who TP'd your tree the night before couldn't have done it.
Finally, In a world where parents pay twice as much to buy organic and avoid miniscule exposure to BPA, do we really want to let our kids find the Elf “tanning under a desk lamp.” If I was to buy into the whole Elf tradition, the message I want to send along with it certainly isn't that "skin cancer is great.”
In the end, traditions have to be organic; they can't be forced or they fail.
Some of my fondest memories of childhood are things my parents don't even remember. Likewise, my Dad recalls high school football accomplishments that I can't remember. These things clearly meant the world to him from his vantage point, but less to me. To paraphrase a line from the movie Deck The Halls: its not the over-planned, big, brash, bright events that stick with a child; its the quiet moments sitting on the floor, just the child and the parent.
|Watch out, Mama!|
Honestly, I'm sure some of those times will break my heart. But keeping up with the Elveses is an impossible mission. Especially not with three two-year olds destined to become three more difficult to please 10-year olds. Because just when you've caught up with the Elveses, you'll find the Joneses are just a little bit ahead of you. So you'll have to set your sights on them.
And that is the point where the Elf will probably push you down the stairs.