It happens right after Thanksgiving. Social media is flooded with images of little elves descending from the North Pole sent by Santa to watch over children. It’s a national phenomena. Searching Pinterest there are hundreds and hundreds of pins dedicated to The Elf on the Shelf ideas. Kudos to those of you with the time and ability to creatively incorporate an elf into your holiday. But as far as I am concerned, I choose not to participate in this tradition. Here’s why.
It requires effort and creativity. I am lazy. Actually just the opposite, I am so busy that I don’t have time to put in the effort to remember to move an elf. Much less have the elf pull pranks or leave messages. I don’t make the time because I don’t feel an elf is a priority in comparison to the other tasks on my plate. The holiday season is busy enough for us moms. Between shopping for gifts, wrapping them, decorating the house, baking cookies, planning visits with friends and family and making travel arrangements somehow moving around an elf every day just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Especially considering…
Alternate Options. There are other ways to bring excitement on a daily basis that require less on my part. Such as advent calendars and countdowns. We have an advent calendar that my girls take turns opening each morning. Inside is a little toy or treat. It’s something they look forward to each day. It puts the asking when they get presents or when does Santa come at bay because they receive a small gift each morning. We also have a wooden reindeer with numerical blocks that we change daily to count down the days until Christmas. The daughter that didn’t get to open the advent door gets to change the numbers on the reindeer each morning.
Commitment. Once you begin with an elf, you have to continue with an elf. Depending on when your youngest child stops believing, you may have committed yourself to a dozen years. I can’t commit to a pair of shoes for that long, how on earth can I commit to 25 nights for 10 years of creatively positioning an elf?
I’m a terrible liar. Just this morning one of my daughters asks, “Is Rudolph for real, like real life?” We use the term “real life” to distinguish between what they might see on television or read in books. I couldn’t look her in the eyes and lie. I decided to skirt the truth, “Well Rudolph is a reindeer and reindeer are real.” I would never be able to keep up the elf facade, never.
The Message. We want our girls to understand the true meaning behind Christmas. It often gets lost in the commercialization of the holiday. As we begin decorating for the holiday, I ask my girls what they like most about Christmas and they both said “presents!”. This is not the answer I want to hear. My husband and I work hard to instill the idea that Christmas (really all holidays) are about spending time and cherishing moments with loved ones. A few days later it’s music to my ears when my daughter tells us the best part about Christmas is “sharing and caring.”
And honestly, I have a hard time with the myth of Santa as well. But I’m not such a scrooge that I will take that enjoyment from my children. However, the idea that whether Santa brings them presents hinges on if they have been good or bad in the days leading up to Christmas, doesn’t sit well with me. We teach our children that the reason we give presents on Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus and our love for one another. Telling them that if they are bad they won’t get presents would insinuate that they are not loved. Or that our love is revocable if they do not behave. Quite simply, I don’t want my children associating gifts with love.
I respect every family’s choice to carry out the holidays in a manner they see fit. I love the holidays and I love creating traditions. But for me, I’d rather spend timing capturing silly moments, sharing belly laughs and warm embraces than worrying about what to do with an elf every night.