Friday, December 19, 2014

In Defense of Elf on the Shelf

                Something has been bothering me this holiday season, and while I can’t right all the injustices in the world, I can take a stand on at least one. Quit picking on Elf on the Shelf. 
            I haven’t always felt this way. In fact, I used to find Elf-boy annoying. He seemed a bit Eddie Haskell-ish to me. (If you don’t know who Eddie Haskell is, this blog is probably not age-appropriate for you, but here's a link to help.) When I first saw Elf-boy on a Facebook post a couple of years ago, I breathed a huge sigh of relief—not for the first time—that there were no longer youngsters in my household. I looked on the elf as just one more self-inflicted pressure for mothers to add to their already over-taxed lives. As if the holidays aren’t hectic enough, now—along with shopping, baking, decorating, party-hosting...—mothers must think of original locations to place Elf-boy, clever ways to pose him, and entertaining stories of how he got in said place and position. For proof, go here. If that doesn't convince you, try here.
            Don’t think for a minute I’m judging today’s moms. My sympathy is real. We had our own version of Mommy Olympics back in the ‘80s, and I threw myself headlong into the competition. I still shudder to think of the guilt participants faced if we failed to acquire the must-have Christmas toy of the year (think waaay over-priced Cabbage Patch doll), to throw the most unique birthday party (think backyard beach “ball” in the middle of Oklahoma), or to “assist” with the best Thanksgiving project (think 6,000 assorted beans glued on a giant turkey poster). The saving grace for mothers of my generation, however, was we didn’t have the added responsibility of sharing our accomplishments—or failures—with half the world on Facebook or Pinterest. And we didn’t have Elf-boy.
            This year I’ve noticed Elf-boy’s fame turning to infamy. All of a sudden, it is popular to tag him with labels such as “creepy” and “tattle-tale” and to insist you’re glad you never bought into the whole elf frenzy in the first place. (Like I’d believe that.)  Some so-called experts have even accused him of traumatizing innocent little darlings and turning them into compliant victims of a “panoptic surveillance” society. Huh?
            Frankly, I think these mean-spirited accusations are a bit over the top and this name-calling borders on bullying. Furthermore, the piling-on is unwarranted. Sure, Elf-boy is annoying, but really, what has he done that’s so terrible? Unlike certain celebrities whose defrockings are the result of their own bad behavior, Elf-boy is simply a victim of his own popularity and, I suspect, frazzled mothers pushed to their limit. His intentions are honorable. All he wants to do is remind children to be on their best behavior and to make a few million bucks in the process. But as often happens with climbs to fame that are meteoric, they fizzle just as fast. Elf-boy's decline will be quick, and soon he will be as obsolete as a Rubik’s Cube Christmas tree ornament. For that reason, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. I hope he’s taking consolation in laughing all the way to the bank.
From the expression on his face, I don't think Elf-boy is taking 
recent criticism too hard.


  1. I do agree that it's just one more thing for moms to get done, but I don't think that the elf watching kids makes the ready to be watched. what about santa? He sees you when you're sleeping..he knows when you're awake???? Same exact concept. My main reason for not doing it with my daycare kids is that it's just one more thing to take the attention away from Jesus' birthday and what the season is really about. Keep your eyes looking up! :)

    1. Christian, Sorry to be replying to your comment so late, but thanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. I thought the same thing about Santa "seeing you" and even "making a list"! ;-) And I agree with you wholeheartedly that the focus should remain on Jesus' birth.

    2. PS - Hope you and your familty had a blessed Christmas!

  2. He looks pretty cozy in his bank bag, Dee Dee! I'm probably one of two people left that isn't/wasn't familiar with the Elf Shelf concept. Which, of course, indicates my age and family status. But I'm OK with that!

    I thought Christina's comment was well-said!

    1. Shel, I understand the age/family situation thing, but I can't believe you haven't seen the pesky little guy on Facebook. You were probably much better off being oblivious, and now I've ruined it by making you aware of him. ;-) I agree with Christina's sentiment, as well. Hope you and yours had a blessed Christmas!


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