I’m mad at myself for even talking about this publicly because goodness gracious y’all…do you know how much controversy this little red suited stuffed toy gets?
A lot a lot.
This year I’m feeling very torn about this tradition.
In years past I have enjoyed taking part in The Elf on The Shelf. But I have also been burdened by this crazy little elf on more occasions than I can count.
By the way…
Cracking up that my husband rearranged my “B E L I E V E” decor so that it said “B E E V I L” and I didn’t even notice until I was editing the images. LOL! What a funny guy he is. <<clears throat>>
I hear from some parents who RAVE about The Elf on the Shelf and then some parents who would rather cancel Christmas then to have to deal with the it.
There are some who are enjoying the magic of watching their children excited to see where the elf lands in the morning and some who are in need of stress medication because the thought of coming up with yet ANOTHER hiding place for this dang elf overwhelms their soul.
There are some who don’t think we should be lying to our children about such magic (because lying about Santa is enough) and some who believe that their children behave better when the elf is watching.
I’m in between. And let me state this very clearly before I go on:
No matter which side of the fence you are on about this controversial Christmas tradition: whether it be Team Elf or Team No Elf …. Team Santa or Team No Santa —> I do not judge you.
You do what you feel is right for your family. And if it brings you joy and you love being a part of it? Do it.
If it makes you crazy or you believe that it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas? Then don’t do it.
But please don’t judge me either. Just because these are my thoughts…does not mean they are yours. And that is ok. Because we are all at different places in our lives and in our faith.
In other words, you can disagree with me…but do it nicely.
Now that that’s clear. Ahem.
We started this tradition five years ago when we had one child. I absolutely loved everything about it. The book, the story, the magic, the way my child’s face lit up when he saw “Sophie”.
He was only two years old at the time and nearly too young to remember if the elf had moved positions each night. There were nights we forgot to move him and he never noticed.
He still woke up smiling because he saw the elf.
Then came child #2. And I suddenly had this grand idea that every child needs their OWN elf. So I bought ANOTHER Elf on the Shelf. Yea, I did that. Remember?
**Luckily, I wised up by child #3.
I suddenly became exhausted with all of the ideas that were out there about how to hide the elf. Some parents were so creative with it. And me? Heck, I was lucky to remember the elf even existed and caught myself on MANY occasions scrambling for an excuse on why our elves were stationary.
Not to mention that our children were obsessed with wanting to touch their elves. Which is highly against all elf rules in the book of elf magic. Wherever that book is.
What was once a joyful, magical, happy event each morning became a crying, tantrum throwing, mad at the world event. Why? Because my kids don’t fully understand magic.
And maybe I’m crazy here y’all…but magic still boggles my adult mind as well so I don’t blame them.
The whole “You can’t touch your elf or he will lose his magic” explanation? Meant absolutely nothing to my children.
All they understand is that their little brains wanted to give their elves big wet kisses and giant bear hugs. They would cry their eyes out for hours on end because they could not hold their elves or sleep with their elves or show their elves how they brush their teeth.
I remember looking at my husband one night and saying, “I thought the whole idea behind this elf thing was they were supposed to be encouraging our children to behave. Do you see our kids right now? Flailing on the floor like they might need CPR if I don’t hand over the elves?”
He nodded. And then he walked over to the mantle and handed each kid their elf.
And I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking…oh you just give your kids want they want every time they throw a fit?
No. We definitely DO NOT do that. Trust me.
But when it comes to things like this…things that are meant to be joyful? I can’t sit back and watch my kids go through the opposite effect…
I like to call those moments joy-suckers. I forbid joy-sucker moments in our home.
Which is also why I rearranged the letters to say “B E L I E V E” again and then told my husband he was in time-out.
It doesn’t matter to me whether my kids touch the elf or not. It doesn’t matter to me whether these elves have magic or have no magic.
I get that some parents have better behaved children because the elf is watching, but the “being well behaved because the elf is watching” thing wasn’t a form of discipline that worked for us.
So this year when it was time for the elves to return…I was conflicted.
Do we bring the elves back and just do what we did last year and let them touch them? They were totally fine with the fact that their elves didn’t have magic last year. They didn’t cry one tear when they woke up and noticed that Sophie and Ollie Pop were still on the same pillow, in the same position as the night before, sleeping next to them.
Or will we risk that our kids will tell their friends they get to touch their elves and ruin every other kids Christmas tradition??
I want my kids to enjoy Christmas and the magic behind Santa and everything that goes with it. But most of all…I want my kids to understand that their behavior should not be dependent on whether some fictional made up idol is watching or not watching .
Sure, I’ve used that line many times.
I actually just told my youngest at church last Sunday, “Now remember, you need to stay on the ‘good list’ or Santa won’t bring you presents.” Ironic that I was at church using this excuse that I hardly believe in.
I’m guilty of using whatever I can to get them to behave in the moment. But when I sit back and really think about the lessons I want my kids to learn about Christmas…it doesn’t involve making sure their behavior is based on pleasing Santa. Or some silly elf.
I want their behavior to be pleasing to Jesus. I want them to know that the ultimate gift is grace and that even when they make bad choices…Jesus will forgive.
Which beats the heck out of Santa who apparently will send them coal instead of Tonka trucks.
When I think of it that way then I don’t get so frazzled about doing our own version of Elf on the Shelf.
There are many things about Christmas that should be magical. For our family each part of the holiday is a symbol of something.
Santa and giving gifts represent the spirit of giving just like God gave us the gift of Jesus.
The Christmas tree is a symbol and remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross (which is called a tree).
The bright star at the top of the tree represents the star that was above Jesus at his birth.
All of the lights and ornaments symbolize the glory and wonder of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
The nativity scene shows us an image of the birth of Jesus.
And whether or not you engage or don’t engage in any of these traditions does not make you a good parent or bad parent. It is simply an expression of the family values that you believe in.
Someday soon our children will no longer believe in Santa or The Elf on the Shelf, but my hope is that the symbolism we create in our home during Christmas will become lasting beliefs in faith and eternal life.