The Elf Upon the Shelf, I Have Hated Him Myself

December 9, 2013 · 9 comments

in Bad Things, Christmas, Holidays, IMO, Kids

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I may or may not have announced on Facebook a couple of weeks ago: “If you post pictures of your Elf on the Shelf I will unfriend you for the month of December.” Partly to be funny, but partly out of spite I felt I needed to issue my warning. Some people like this “tradition” (Nobody was doing it five years ago so it’s not really that much of a tradition), but some people really despise it (me!). There are so many reasons I hate it: using weird bribery to get kids to behave, furthering the “I Believe” cult of people bearing their testimonies of Santa, and it does have such a creepy little face. Mostly, though, I hate this Elf on the Shelf thing because it symbolizes all the crazy stuff we do to ourselves during the holiday season. Somehow Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day have come together to create a completely bizarre tradition: an Elf that gets into crazy mischief every single night. As if buying presents, giving neighbor gifts, attending concerts and/or parties, making travel arrangements, decorating our houses, doing one or more advent calendars, and baking at least a few more times than we usually do isn’t enough. Now we have this Elf to worry about to.

I know that most of the people who do it say it’s a fun and harmless tradition. But it seems to be a bit overboard. It seems to be just one more thing to increase the chance of being in a bad mood come December 25th. I would just ask all the big proponents of the Elf movement how many times they’ve posted pictures of their Elf hijinx on Facebook, blogs or Instagram. Because it seems that the people who are most into the Elf are the ones who are most active in social media. Are they really doing it for their kids or are they doing it to impress everyone else?

Is the Elf on the Shelf really to blame? Or is it just a symptom of our runaway culture? Is everything about Christmas getting out of hand? I have to admit that a few years ago when I had had enough of “all this materialism” and decided to make every single Christmas present by hand for all our relatives that I became a stressed out basket case. That Christmas was sheer misery. I thought that by making everything I would somehow get in touch with the spirit of Christmas, only to find myself knitting and making soap at 3 am on several occasions.

Every year I think that I will streamline the holidays somehow. But three of the kids have concerts. The High School voice student recital being particularly painful, but it’s not like I can skip it and not hear my daughter sing. Same with the piano recital. And work parties (I’m sure my husband has memorized my diatribe about hating an evening spent with his drunk coworkers). But these are all things that must be done. The work Christmas party is number one on my husband’s list of necessary events.

Here I sit, though, staring at a hundred paper stars that I spent most of yesterday applying glitter to. They’re for the church Christmas party, which I am in charge of. Did I need to make a ton of glittery stars? I guess not, but you try coming up with centerpieces for a party with a teensy budget! Is it necessary or is this my personal Elf on the Shelf?

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Is there hope for me and all the other frazzled parents or is just the reality that we have all created? Why am I even thinking that December should be any different? Where is this elusive holiday where all I need to worry about is helping others and feeling the love of Christ? Is this just a figment of our collective imagination, like a perfect wedding or a family reunion where nobody gets their feelings hurt? Maybe I just need to ratchet up my caffeine intake, get used to shopping at stores that are open 24-hours-a-day and accept Christmas in all it’s nutty insanity; elves, recitals and all.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah B. December 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

I’m right there with you on the Elf issue. I have one friend who is only doing it because her daughter came home in tears last year because “all my friends have one, and why isn’t the elf visiting ME???” And she caved. I can’t imagine. I’ve finally started simplifying my holiday season by insisting that my husband take care of the gifts for his family, who refuse to draw names despite the sheer quantity of people involved for whom we are ‘required’ to purchase gifts. My stress level is so much lower this year, it isn’t even funny. One step at a time. Those stars are pretty, though!

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Hildie December 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

My mother-in-law announced that she only wants gifts that my husband (her son) has picked out for her. At first I was like, “what? Do I have bad taste?”. Now I’m pretty much jumping for joy because that’s less birthday and Christmas presents I have to deal with. I have since announced that my husband is now responsible for the lion’s share of his family because I have my own side to worry about. You’re right, it is much less stressful!

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Tara December 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I really don’t care if other people want to make the elf part of their Christmas activities, but I seriously don’t need to see a picture of it every. single. day. We just had our third baby in September, so I am making Christmas a LOT more simple this year and I love it so far. We’re just doing a 12 day advent instead of the whole month, and I’ve narrowed down only a few of the activities/crafts/treats that Pinterest and blogs seem to scream are necessary. It’s working for us this year.

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Hildie December 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Tara, that’s exactly where I’m at. I guess if somebody is crazy enough to waste their time on it, then who really cares. It’s just when they post pictures all the time (the validation for being a great mother, I suppose) that I start to hate it so badly.

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L. December 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

One of the joys of being a Social Media illiterate is never having heard of the Elf on the Shelf. I had to look it up in Wikipedia. It doesn’t sound like a “fun” tradition to me. It sounds like a guilt producer, and another distraction from a Christ-centered Christmas. I’m glad that one passed me by.

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Iiona Virgin December 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

Haha! We do the Elf on the Shelf and our Christmas is Christ centered. We don’t do santa in our house at all. As a matter of fact my oldest (12) has never believed in santa. Our younger two (7, and 6) kind of believe but not really, they ask if he is real and our response is if you believe he is real then he is real. But that’s about all. We don’t use the Elf as a way to make our children be naughty vs nice, I have always thought the whole santa naughty/nice thing was stupid and a waste of time.

Our Elf is just there to help count down the days until Christmas, so once he shows up the kiddos know it’s 24 days until Christmas. The Elf has no special powers, actually our kiddos play with him and sometimes I have to search for him to put him somewhere else for the next day/night. I have on occasion posted pictures on one of my social media outlets on a daily basis, but not all of the time. Most of my photos go on my blog or posted to pinterest. The photos are posted to mainly family to see what we are doing, not as a brag. Because I also post my food that I have made, my children’s activities, the new minivan I just got… posting things can lead to people believing your bragging but don’t we all? Isn’t that what social media is about other then keeping family and friends up to date on what going on in your life, as if they really care. LOL.

I make gifts for teachers and other families. We don’t give gifts to extended family members except our youngest niece who is 4. I was and still am determined to make the Holidays simple and if it starts to get out of hand I will shut stuff down. Because I dislike being stressed out, so I will say you know we said we were going to do “this” but now we aren’t we are just going to hang out at home.

Anyways, I saw your post and thought it was funny, because I get asked why I do it and I say it’s just for fun we don’t even do santa in our house. Jesus is the reason for the season…

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Iiona Virgin December 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

sorry for the novel please feel free to not post if you would like, lol

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Allison December 11, 2013 at 6:24 am

I felt the Pinterest peer-pressure to start up the Elf on the Shelf tradition but resisted. The photos do make me laugh though. But I am a serial poster of my kiddos photos so I guess I would be the “kettle” if I complained. Celebrating the holidays on a different continent that our entire family makes any photo, even of an naughty elf, a welcome post. Joyeux Noël to you and yours.

p.s. Pinterest did guilt me into attempting a gingerbread house with the girls this year… and no cheating with graham crackers since they are not available in France. :)

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Ali Em December 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Our elf has been with us for 6 years, long before I’d ever heard of all the hi jinx he was ‘supposed to do’. It’s only been the past few years that online people have turned it into some crazy competition of what mischief their elf has gotten himself (herself, of course there’s girl elves now) into. Our apparently lazy elf, Fred simply shows up every morning in a different spot. He never does anything amazing or spectacular. My kids just love finding where he ends up every morning…a book case, a shelf, etc. For them, it’s a contest of who can find him first which then garners that child ‘bragging rights’ for the day! :) I love our elf! I think he’s cute and it’s a fun story! In our house it IS a tradition. I mean, traditions have to start somewhere, right? It makes me sad that there are so many elf haters out there, but I suppose over zealous, show off social media moms are to blame for that. I’d probably be an elf on the shelf hater too, if I’d just been introduced to him in the past few years. =\

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