If you don’t know what Elf on the Shelf is, let me enlighten you. Many people online are calling it an “American tradition” but as it’s only been going on since 2005 I’m going to go ahead and call it a “pile of American consumeristic exploitative marketing crap.”
The basic premise is this: an Elf is sent from Santa on the 1st of December to stay in your house until Christmas, spying on your children and reporting their behaviour back to Santa. If they are bad, no presents for them! Originally the elf just hid somewhere in the house each night, but these days it’s becoming a bit out of hand. Frequently the “mischievous” little elves get up to various antics in the night, often playing tricks on their hosts, being naughty, or bringing treats like chocolate & Christmas themed activities.
There are several glaring things wrong with this picture, in my eyes. I know, I know, it’s “all a bit of fun” and “the kids love it” but… oh my god. I cannot wrap my head around why anyone thinks these are a good idea, even if this makes me the biggest spoilsport in the world, and some sort of grinch.
Firstly, there is a tiny person in your house spying on your children?!
I’m not sure that Georgie and Lydia would be ok with that idea. I’m definitely sure I am not. I don’t want to tell my kids that it’s ok for there to be someone watching their every move, even if it’s just a toy elf. Privacy is a really delicate issue and even as a blogging family we have many private things and moments in our lives that don’t make it online. Why I would tell my children that it’s actually a good thing for something or someone to be violating their private lives in this way is beyond me.
Secondly, if your children are bad, Christmas is cancelled.
Ok, so I get that people say this works. For the entirety of Christmas, your children are basically under threat. If they misbehave, uh-oh! Your sadistic little elf is going to report back to Santa and he’ll get their names on the naughty list faster than you can say “coal.” They had better behave then!
What about the other 11 months of the year? Do you really want to teach your children that being good is something they need to do in order to get rewarded with treats and presents, or should you just teach them to be good people. Being naughty at times is natural, but you should deal with it the same all year, in a consistent way, surely… You don’t use threats to manage your children’s behaviour for the rest of the year, so why is it ok in December?
Also, if they are little brats for a few days out of the month, are you really going to cancel Christmas? It’s an empty threat, surely. As soon as your kids figure that out, you lose integrity anyway.
Thirdly, why are the elves allowed to be bad, but your children have to be angelic?
This doesn’t even make any sense… these elves are not leading by good example! They play pranks, tattle tales, and are often out-and-out naughty. Bah.
Fourthly, it’s become about oneupmanship between parents.
It’s all a bit keeping up with the Joneses these days. Instagram, twitter and Facebook is going to be full of photos of elves doing weird and supposedly wonderful things for the next four weeks and it is going to drive me mad. As the month goes on, the antics of these damn elves get more & more ridiculous and they even sometimes bring expensive gifts for children, or play increasingly stupid and extravagant practical jokes.
You do get the feeling it becomes less about entertaining children and more about beating everyone else in some sort of crazy elf competition.
…this is just one bloggers opinion, and as this is my blog it’s the perfect place to share it! I find the whole thing wildly inappropriate, blatantly creepy, and pretty much stupid. But if you like it, good for you… I guess. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on a subject.
For now, I am going to sit on my hands when I see the photos, mute the hashtags, and do my best to ignore this crazy phenomenon for the rest of the month… and hope that people get bored of it quickly.
P.S. Yes, I’m one of those horrible mummies that won’t be letting their child go trick-or-treating, as well.