Since everyone else on the internet is making their opinions known about this trendy Christmas tradition, I figure I might as well throw mine into the mix. Here’s why we don’t “do” Elf on the Shelf in our house.
There are the obvious reasons like it’s a creepy little thing, and, well, that’s pretty much it. It’s creepy. It’s creepier than the notion of a big fat man with a beard in a red suit watching your children while they sleep, because it’s actually IN your house! And it moves around your house while you are sleeping!!
Okay, I obviously know it isn’t actually moving, but how are kids not more freaked out about that?! At least with Santa Claus it’s all imaginary. They don’t wake up in the middle of the night and actually see Santa watching them. But they do wake up and see that this weird little Elf has moved around in the night and gotten into their toys, or messed up the kitchen, or whatever it is that people make the thing do.
So besides the obvious creepiness of the Elf on the Shelf, I have other reasons that I never introduced this tradition to my children. First, that thing is expensive! Thirty dollars for a Christmas version of Chucky? I don’t think so.
It also seems annoying, and if every other Facebook status, Tweet, and parenting blog post is any indication, “annoying” is putting it nicely. It just seems like an unnecessary, extra, stressful task that I wouldn’t want to add to my list at any time of the year.
My children are also a big reason that I never bothered introducing Elf on the Shelf. They ask too many questions. I barely even perpetuate the idea of Santa because I’m not prepared to flat-out lie directly into their wide, innocent little eyes. Any time they ask me if Santa is real, or how his sleigh flies, I just give them vague answers like, “Do you think he’s real?” or, “They say it’s Christmas magic.” Who are “they?” I don’t know, but it seems to appease them well enough.
I equate it to someone asking me if I like their outfit. If I don’t like it, I don’t tell them that! But I also don’t go on about how much I love it either. I make vague statements that get me out of outright lying, but are good enough so that we can move on to the next topic of discussion.
The idea of stringing my kids along just never appealed to me. They know the story of Christmas with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Beyond that, I let them believe whatever they want to believe, until they’ve decided they don’t want to believe it anymore. They get one present from Santa on Christmas morning and the rest are from us, their grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Why should some figment of someone’s weird imagination get all the credit?
All that being said, I have many friends who have adopted the Elf on the Shelf tradition. Some say it’s the only thing that gets their kids to behave for one month out of the year, and some just think it’s fun. So to everyone who has embraced this Christmas tradition, whatever you need to do to keep your kids happy and well-behaved, I say more power to you! It just isn’t for me.