Why we don't do Elf-on-the-shelf....
And other Christmas "traditions".
This year, as a mom with other mom friends, I've seen a lot of posts, thanks to social media, with Christmas traditions covering my newsfeed.
There's lots of them: 25 days of Christmas pictures, Carolling, Christmas lights, Trees, and that little elf for the shelf bit.
I'll never forget about two Christmases ago, when I first had heard or seen the little devil doll. I was in Target, with my husband and we were shopping. I passed a display case with the books and elves all neatly arranged, and stopped to marvel this phenomenon.
Obviously, my face showed confusion and I didn't know what I was doing, because a complete stranger came about 4 inches from my face and asked me "Do you have kids?"
"Yes?" I said, still confused.
"Then you need that. It's the best thing ever."
"Well what the heck is it?" I said with a look of disbelief.
The woman, that I didn't know, went on to explain the "tradition" to me, and how it works. Including in her description, the control regained over your kids when the elf is present in your home.
I couldn't believe it. Her eyes were bright and hope returned to her face as she described the role of this elf and how it "reports back to Santa" so that your kids "actually listen".
I thanked the woman, and kindly turned away before I burst out laughing as not to offend her.
We put the elf back on the store shelf, and headed onto whatever we planned on purchasing.
So now that my kids, have grown in number and age, and Christmas is for lack of a better word "magical" to them, I thought I would tell you why I am an advocate for NOT doing elf on the shelf.
First off, that thing is straight up creepy. Have you ever looked at one? I mean, at the store or the one hanging around in your house right now- go look at it. It's got this fake carnival painted face with bright eyes and a suit fashioned out of fleece, that looks like it's directly out of a Stephen King novel. The idea of this thing "reporting to Santa" while you sleep, mean that this in-animate object also "comes to life" behind your back. You teach your kids not to touch it or bother it, but place it in these "naughty" places or positions and let your kids wake up to find "what the elf has done" each day. Tell me what creepy looking stranger you let come into your house, with free reign over your home, that your kids can't disturb, and you let sneak behind your back? That elf on the freaking shelf needs to learn his or her place and be shoved into the tree like the rest of the ornaments. For goodness sake, if he really does tell Santa what to do, lock it up in a cage and hold it hostage until Santa delivers the mother load to your house!
I don't need an elf to "control" my kids. I don't need and elf to get them to "obey". We have a thing here at our house where if my kids don't obey, a form or punishment or natural consequence is the result. You're running in the house, then go sit on your bed. You didn't eat dinner? Then no dessert. You keep whining? I'm not listening to your request until you stop.
Some things have natural consequences too. For instance, if you're jumpng on the bed, and fall off, I'll remind you that we don't jump off the bed. If your chair falls backwards and you bump your head, I'll remind you that we sit instead of stand on our chairs.
There's no reason a small toy has to do the communicating to my kids, or to Santa.
Speaking of Santa, that's another "tradition" we don't practice.
I know, I know, we are robbing our kids of holiday "cheer".
And this is in no way a judgement on anyone who does do "santa" at home- So please save the hate mail for another topic, like abortion, racism, or politics.
But my kids see Christmas as a holiday where we celebrate being grateful and generous, because God was generous to us when He sent Jesus to us. We celebrate with a Christmas Tree because Pine trees are the only tree that can last through the winter and not die, and God is the only God who can last through life's winters, and He does not fail.
We put lights on our tree, and a star, because God is the light of the world and the Star of the season.
We give gifts, because it teaches giving and selflessness in a world where generousity has been forgotten and selfishness and consumerism is dominating at staggering inclines.
My kids only get three presents. And when I was growing up, my brother and I only ever got three presents. Jesus only got three presents, so who are we but man that we should get more than that?
Back to Santa-
If you ask my four year old about him, she will tell you he is dead.
I know- its a little harsh for a preschooler!
But hear me out.
She knows that Saint Nick was a generous man who brought gifts to children who couldn't afford them. The idead of giving gifts has been carried over, by his generosity to today. So the spirit and cheer of what a man did at one time lives on, but the man himself does not.
Now think for a moment with me, about the figure of "Santa Clause". His image is recognized world wide, as a figure of the Holiday. You can "visit" him at any local shopping mall, or various places. You can write him mail, and in some cases, he writes back. Society as a whole has adopted the idea and publicizes his role loudly. But one day, my children will (if they did "Santa"), like many other children, realize that he is not real. That it is a tradition and spirit that began long ago and does not exist. They can see him, and feel him, and hear him loudly, but he is not real.
All the while, as we are a Christian home, I tell them about a God in heaven who does mircales and has stories of compassion and redemption in a book called the Bible. He also does things for us now, like answer prayer, and send His Holy Spirit. But they will never be able to see Him in a mall. The television will never confirm His existence. The media will probably never again promote this "God" we proclaim at our house.
And yet if or when they would have realized I had lied about a person, such as Santa, who they can see. How much more difficult would it be for a child or young adult by then, to believe in a God whom they cannot see?
Our house chooses to participate in different Christmas "traditions" like driving around to look at Christmas lights. Opening presents with family bright and early Christmas day. Putting up the tree together. Stockings filled with goodies. Giving and receiving. But as a parent and guardian of my home, I am selective in what I allow as an influence on my kids.
I've said it a million times before and I'll say it again: As parents our job is to raise up disciples of Jesus Christ. And that primary role is the purpose of anyone with the title Parent, whether you embrace it or not.
I'm not suggesting that you get rid of all the other traditions that you do in your home, or that you quit celebrating. I'm suggesting we filter our traditions, our decisions, our purposes, and influences by the Word of God, and let that ultimatum be the deciding factor in how and what we use to parent.
I hope you'll share your favorite traditions below, and give the reason for the Season His due place in your heart and home this Christmas season!
From the Curzio's