Thursday 23 November 2017

Why I'm Not Jumping On The Elf On A Shelf Bandwagon

As December rolls in, my social media feeds will start to fill up with photos of self-proclaimed naughty elves wreaking havoc in their adopted homes. There are Pinterest boards full of ideas, whole websites dedicated to suggestions for hilarious antics for those pesky elves. Every morning, once kids are packed off to bed, my Facebook timeline will be filled with parents sharing their elf on the shelf setups for their kids to discover the following day. And below the photos, comments will appear from other committed elf-on-the-shelfers saying how wonderful it all is. 

And that's fine, you do whatever you want to do in your home to make Christmas as wonderful as you want it to be for your kids. And, by all means, proudly share the snaps to Facebook, I can just scroll by, but I won't be joining in. I'm no Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. I am all for Christmas. I love the build-up, I love decorating the tree, I love walking through Manchester when all the trees are lit up by twinkling lights. But this elf on the shelf thing just doesn't sit well with me. Here's why:

1. I don't think threats work
Parenting through threats just isn't a good way of parenting, is it? Either you end up doling out a ridiculous number of harsh in-the-moment threats or you have to renege on them and lose your edge. I hate the whole 'Santa won't bring you any presents if you're naughty' thing. I hate the fake calls to Father Christmas to report bad behaviour. I think it's unkind. As adults, we're in on the secret that Father Christmas isn't real, do we really need to exploit our power further by using Christmas presents as a threat to our children?

2. They're really creepy
I'm just not comfortable with the idea of telling my kids they're being spied on. Who? Oh, him. He's just a tiny creep who's going to watch you for the next 24 days, critique your behaviour and then report back to Father Christmas who will decide whether you get any presents or not. Woah, isn't that a bit much? Are we really expecting children to behave impeccably for the whole of December? Are we expecting them to stop being children just for the sake of impressing a (some might say hypocritically) badly behaved elf? 

3. Father Christmas is a fairytale, a legend, a thing of magic
Christmas is something pure and innocent and magical. Or it was until we invented these undercover agents to spy on every kid. I don't want to exploit the magic of Christmas. I love the magic of Christmas. I am always looking for ways to add a little extra magic, I'm just not sure elves complete with threatening 'your behaviour is very bad and I'm going to have to tell father Christmas' is the right way to do it. I don't think Christmas should be a discipline technique, and that seems to be a big part of how the elves are used. 

4. Christmas is magical enough already
Elf on the shelf wasn't a thing when I was a growing up. I remember I always felt like something was missing. Christmas just wasn't magical and my childhood was terrible without... oh no, wait, everything was fine. Christmas is magical. Not that it needs to be, really. But it is. There's a mythical man in a red suit who delivers present with the help of some flying reindeer. There's a stocking full of gifts, a tree covered in fairy lights and 24 foil wrapped chocolates in the lead up to the big day. It couldn't get any more magical. Elf on the shelf is just another something else, another layer, and I just don't really see the point. I love Christmas but I am happy with it staying in the realm of 1990 Christmas levels, I don't need to add a mischevious elf to pump things up to 2016 festive overload. 

5. It's going to get awkward
At some point, Christmas is going to get awkward. My kids are going to reach that 'is he real' stage of childhood and there will be an awkward period where nobody is ready to publically admit that Father Christmas is actually just me stumbling around with a stocking of presents in the early hours of Christmas Eve. And that is going to be awkward enough without having to endure a whole month of putting out mischevious elves that my kids already know aren't real. I can't do that to myself, motherhood is humiliating enough as it is. 

What do you think of the elf on a shelf craze?

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

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