I hate the Elf on the Shelf. There, I said it. Every year it makes me feel like a horrible parent. It makes me feel grinchy and ragey. It makes me feel like a bad Christian. It makes me feel disgusted. But this year, I’m not letting that little, weird-looking thing get to me. And you shouldn’t let it get to you either. Why? Because we are better than this. Let’s join forces, come together, and rise up against this Elf on the Shelf nonsense!
This year I decided not to take the elves out the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, we have two elves because my loving mother and grandmother to my children decided a couple of years ago that my two kiddos needed their own elves. (Mom, if you are reading this, now that we have added child #3 into the mix, please don’t buy a third elf!). I didn’t take the elves out because I thought the whole idea was stupid, and I didn’t want to become another victim of the Elf on the Shelf hype once again. But yesterday morning as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed something that reminded me of why I really hate the whole elf thing. And in a fit of rage and passion, I marched down my basement stairs and dug out Mongonk and Stella. I wrote a couple of notes to my kiddos, and I hid those little elfers. You see, I don’t really hate the Elf on the Shelf. What I hate is the ugliness it brings out in us.
Every year it’s the same thing. The arguments start. Judgements are made. And all of a sudden you have parents feeling guilty for not having an elf, parents arguing with each other over the true meaning of Christmas and the proper way to teach kindness, and parents judging each other for not having enough Christmas spirit, or for buying into a messed up idea like hiding an elf around the house that creeps on little kids. Oh, and then you have the people who don’t have kids yet or kids old enough to know about the elf putting their own two cents in about how they know what’s better for our kids. You know what’s messed up? All. Of. This. This is messed up. It’s disgusting what shows up in my newsfeed sometimes. It’s sad to see people say and write such horrible things about each other and their parenting styles (because apparently having an elf or not having an elf reveals all of your shortcomings as a parent). And it’s especially disappointing to see that people feel like they can freely treat each other so unkindly on social media. What the elf???
When I read the comments about the elves that appeared in a story on my newsfeed, I couldn’t believe some of the judgements people were making about each other. In fact, I was really angry about it all day. But then I asked myself, “Why do I give a flying elf?” Why do any of us give a flying elf?
If there is anything I have learned from being a parent, it’s that I am in no way a perfect parent. I mess up every day. The other day I accidentally said the f-word in front of my first grader when I dropped and broke a dish in the kitchen. I was waiting all day for a phone call from the principal saying that my daughter decided to teach her friends that word. So far I think I dodged a bullet there. I make mistakes every day as a parent, and I know I am not the only one. We are human. We are imperfect, which means there is no way any of us are perfect parents. While there certainly are exceptions, I believe that all of us love our children, and because we love our children, we are all doing our best to raise our children right. But my way of raising my children is different from yours. And your way of raising your children is different from mine. That is the beauty of parenthood –our experiences are similar, yet also very unique. And perhaps we can learn a few things about parenting from each other along the way. After all, we are a village.
So, if you want to put that elf on your shelf, go for it. Nobody should be stopping you or judging you for it. I’ll admit, I enjoy seeing my kids get excited about looking for their elves in the morning. I also discovered that they have no problem getting out of bed on school days now, so I may just keep the elves around until June. If you think the elf is stupid, well, I get it! But that doesn’t give you a right to judge other parents who think it’s fun and magical. Some parents might think that dying Easter eggs, dressing up for Halloween, and sitting on a strange bearded man’s lap are weird traditions too. If you are confused like me about how you feel about the elf because you care too much about what other people think of you while also having a desire to go against the grain, don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. And if you do something different with a reindeer, Kindness Elf, or Snoop on the Stoop (just google it), that’s totally cool too.
I decided this year that Mongonk and Stella can stay in our home on a few conditions. First, I’m not going to move them to new spots every day. Second, I’m not even going to try to use them as a tool to get my kids to behave better because it hasn’t worked yet. Third, our elves don’t report to Santa or get into mischief. Instead, my kids are getting notes from their elves that highlight their accomplishments and good qualities. That’s it. It’s simple enough for me, and exciting enough for my kiddos. And I don’t give a flying elf about what you decide to do or not do with the elf because I trust that your decision is based on what you think is best for you and your kiddos this holiday season.
So here’s to rising up against the Elf on the Shelf nonsense and coming together to focus on spreading kindness instead of ugliness on the Internet this holiday season! Cheers!