I have a confession to make. I used to despise the Elf on the Shelf. Then Barbara came into our lives and I was forced to change my mind. Barbara (so lovingly named by A) is our elf. She was given to us last year as a gift and A loved her right away. I had some preconceived notions about the Elf on the Shelf tradition, and honestly, a lot of them were true. As I opened the box and read the book that comes with the elf, I was a little shocked. The book explains that the elf comes to stay with your family during Christmas time. Each night your elf travels back to Santa and tells him if you’ve been naughty or nice that day. The book shows the elf keeping an eye on the kids and reporting back to Santa on days when they have done something wrong.
I think the only thing I don’t like about Christmas time is this idea of “naughty or nice”. It is common that I hear parents in the grocery store saying “If you don’t get back in the cart Santa won’t be bringing you any gifts this year.” Is that really true? If your child has several rough days in a row before Christmas morning are they really going to wake up to no gifts under the tree? I am human and although I’d like to think I don’t, I do make mistakes. I have bad days where I am impatient with A and short tempered with my husband when he comes home from work. Despite the mistakes I make every day, I’d like to hope there will still be a gift or two for me under our tree. I would be pretty upset if forgot to wash my husband’s work clothes one day and he said “Looks like one of your gifts will be getting returned.”
All of this relates back to that (semi-creepy) little elf that is now in my house. I do not like what she stands for. I don’t like that she is supposed to watch over A and tell Santa if she was being “bad” that day. Of course, A is too young to understand that this year. She comes down each morning and searches for Barbara and that is about the extent of her involvement. I am proposing that our little elf will be different. I thought a lot about how I could incorporate the fun part of the Elf on the Shelf tradition and lose the parts I don’t agree with. I decided that I want our elf to represent the giving part of the holiday season. I am hoping that next year I can use our elf to show A how much fun it is to help, thank, and give to people during the month of December. I’m thinking one day maybe A will wake up and Barbara the elf will be waiting for her with paper and markers so she can make thank you cards for our garbage men and post man. Maybe another morning Barbara will have a recipe card and all of the ingredients to make some cookies for our elderly neighbors who love getting a visit. I’m going to tell her that our elf reports back to Santa and to Jesus. Our elf tells Santa about all of the good she’s doing and lets Jesus know that she loves to give to others. On those bad days, of course there will be a few, we’ll work through asking for forgiveness and appropriate consequences, but our elf will not be reporting back to Santa that any of us were naughty (hopefully me included).
I am not saying that the Elf on the Shelf tradition is a bad one. Its adorable to see how much kids love to run and find that mischievous little elf each morning. All I am saying is that maybe we can all bend the rules a little bit and use the elf for some good. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on what you’re doing with the elf or how you’re promoting a “giving” attitude during the holidays!