It happens every year. As soon as the turkey's been eaten, my social media feed explodes with the arrival of every family's Elf on the Shelf. Named Pickles, Possum, or Poopy Pants, these adopted elves return from their long stay in the North Pole to frolic in Barbie's hot tub and zipline down the Christmas tree. It seems like no one can get enough of their antics. No one, that is, except me.
I've never bought into the Elf on the Shelf craze, and frankly I'd like to send that creepy stalker back to whatever nightmare he came from. While it might sound like a fun way to spread a little holiday cheer, have you ever stopped to consider the message this creeper is sending to your kids? Hey, kids, don't mind that weird elf watching your every move and reporting it all back to Santa (another creeper extraordinaire)! Look how fun this is!
There's a word for this, and it's not fun. In most states, it's enough to slap someone with a restraining order.
Don't get me wrong: I appreciate holiday cheer as much as the next person. I've been known to put up my Christmas tree before Thanksgiving, and once I left it up until Valentine's Day (I'm not proud of that, I admit). I go overboard every year trying to cram in as much holiday merriment for my kids as I can, and every year I vow not to buy quite so many gifts next year (and every year, I fail). But I have to draw the line at spinning a web of lies and calling it festive.
I'm not the only one who thinks the Elf on the Shelf is Creepy with a capital C. Some of my friends skip the whole spying part of the story and just entertain their kids by concocting wild poses and mischief for their elf each day. But as I watch these parents searching for new ideas and posting about how tired they are of their elves every year, I have to wonder: Did any of us really need another holiday "must" in a season already chock-full of them?
The holidays are wonderful — and exhausting. I don't know a single parent who sits around talking about how much they wish they had even more to do every damn day in December. So why on Earth have we bought into this ridiculous Elf on the Shelf craze? It's nothing but an excuse to sell everything from the elves themselves to a full line of merchandise, and while I can appreciate the hustle, I'm going to have to bow out of this particular frenzy. Sorry not sorry, kids, but you're not getting an official Elf on the Shelf Saint Bernard stuffy this year, and you'll have to skip the Elf on the Shelf pajamas too.
Call me Scrooge, but there's enough on my plate already. Besides, I'm just not willing to lie to my kids in the name of holiday "magic." There's nothing magical about lying to my kids, whether it's about my inglorious past or the existence of Santa Claus or the Elf on the Shelf. I want my kids to know they can trust me and that I'm someone who tells the truth — all the time, not just when I decide it matters. I still remember when I found out that Santa wasn't real, and it's not something I want my own kids to experience. We can have plenty of holiday magic without relying on chubby old men and stalker elves. Promise.
And here's a newsflash for you: Not everything has to be magical for your kids. I've had my fill of trying to Pinterest my way into the parenting Hall of Fame, and I'm here to tell you there's nothing there but exhaustion and regret. Our kids will be just fine with a little less magic, and we'll be better off for remembering that we're people with our own interests and lives outside of our kids, too.
Of course, if you really, truly love coming up with new poses for your beloved elf, then have at it. Who am I to deprive you of a little fun? Just maybe stop spinning him as a living, breathing stalker to your kids. Trust me, you can still have fun without convincing your kids that every mistake they make will be going straight to Santa.
But if you secretly wish that elf would take a one-way trip to the landfill? I'm here to tell you it's okay. You're officially off the hook. You can hide that little creeper under the coffee grounds and the child art, and no one will ever be the wiser. It'll be our little secret.