Thursday, December 5, 2013

In Defense of the Elf

There is a blog post going around Facebook. I heard about it before I read it- then I read it myself and thought it needed a reply.

To all you naysayers against the Elf on the Shelf tradition, to you I say Humbug! 

I will start however by saying that there are a few things I agree with in her article- Christmas can be a super hectic time of year, mother's do have a lot on their plates, and that "If you need an elf to address your child’s behavior, you are not doing your job."

 But that's about as far as we agree. Christmas is fun. Christmas is happy. She says in her own post that she can already hear the arguments,  “It’s just fun. It’s not a big deal.” Well sister, you hear those replies because they are true. It IS just fun- and it is NOT a big deal. 

My sister does it for her two children, my brother and his wife for their three teenage daughters, and my two single adult sisters have an elf at their house too that they take turns with. No one is using it as discipline. No one is threatening no Christmas presents if a kid has a meltdown or doesn't clean the bathroom- because that's just not real. No parent EVER any time of year- should threaten with empty threats- and maybe my experience is limited, but I've never once heard of parents chucking their kid's Christmas gifts because their kid was rotten. 

At this house, it is our first year with our elf (lovingly named Snowflake Elfin) and so far it has been an absolute blast. I'm not sure who giggles more- the seven year old or her great grandmother who just can't get enough of the brightness in the child's eyes and the smile as she says, "G.G, come see!!!"  It's something we all do together. We opened the book and read it together, watched the movie together, and every morning when she finds the elf, we get together and talk and laugh and just enjoy it.

I won't say it hasn't had an effect on her behavior- but not because we've forced it- just because she's so excited. The other day she woke up grumpy, tired and whiny- but as soon as the elf was mentioned she jumped out of bed and ran to look for her then cheerfully got ready and went to school. She's had a smile on her face all week- just so excited. It has even inspired acts of kindness and service in her because she decided (her own idea- not planted) to bake cookies for her elf. It's a weird way to learn it, but she's learning service and gratitude toward others.

This kid is not unloved. She isn't neglected- and time is not taken away from her by my working on the elf. She's already in bed when it's done (which by the way- the least of all my arguments about what she says in the article is that the "creepy elf" watches her sleep. No. No she doesn't. That's when she's gone back to the North Pole. And if you want to get into intrusive childhood tales that should creep people out... two words: Tooth Fairy- and yet I bet she told her children about her/him [depending on how progressive your family is] and left money under their pillows).

Also, our elf (and maybe she's unique in this) isn't naughty. She's silly and fun-loving, but she isn't doing anything damaging or dirty (I've seen some pretty perverted things people have done... and I think it's just sickening). She's not tearing paint off of walls, or creating a need for the house to be re carpeted. She's not bullying anyone or making messes and leaving them (she'll make a mess alright- but she cleans it up and that I think is a GREAT lesson and example to the kid- that if you make the mess, you clean it up).

In my family we go WAY overboard at Christmas- the dinner, the program, the songs, the chimes, the jammies, the games, the candy, the carols, the pickles, the... and that's just Christmas Eve!!! But no one is writing and crapping all over those things. Why? because they are acceptable forms of family togetherness. Well, our Elf is part of that togetherness. We've been closer this week than we have in a long time.

I think what it all boils down to is- you don't want to do the tradition? fine- don't do it. But don't get all self righteous Judgy McJudgerson on those who choose to implement it into their Christmas. Christmas is absolutely a time to celebrate Christ- I don't deny that one iota- but honestly, we should be celebrating Christ all year round. It shouldn't take an overly commercialized, pagan dated holiday for you to remember and be grateful for the birth, life and resurrection of the savior. If you're going to get down to brass tacks- you know that's the case. Jesus wasn't born in December- but who cares? Haven't you ever celebrated a birthday on a day other than the birthday? Didn't that person feel just as loved? I'm sure the Savior appreciates us turning our thoughts to Him- but it shouldn't matter when that happens.

If you're going to be like that about it, then I suggest you put away your Eastery Bunnies and Eggs come springtime- because those are all along the same line. You are celebrating a purpose, yes, but you are also enjoying it. "Men are that they might have joy," remember? and if having silly, harmless little traditions is what brings someone joy, who are you to say they shouldn't?

After Christmas, I will post all the silly things our elf has done! And for those of you who have been posting yours progressively on Facebook- I love them!!!

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