By Guest Blogger Lisa Witherspoon
The other week, the TMoM ladies posted a question on Facebook asking if moms participated in the Elf on the Shelf tradition and if so, when their Elf arrived and what his name was. It got me thinking that I would really like to share my perspective on this topic, so I jotted down my thoughts and submitted my blog below. I hesitated to post this one for fear that it would offend others and I also did not want readers to think this was the opinion of the TMoM team. Rachel & Katie assured me that one of the things they like best about running this website is being able to share viewpoints of many, even though sometimes it is completely opposite from their own beliefs. I am sure that I will receive some not so nice comments, but again, I do not mean this as an insult to anyone who has an elf and loves the elf. If it works for your family, that is your decision and I completely respect it. I am not judging; I am simply expressing my point of view.
It’s that time of year again – everyone is posting pictures of their Elf’s creative adventures. Not at our house – We do not have an elf. Why have I deprived my children of this super fun tradition you might ask- let me explain.
1. In the evenings, after our busy days, it is all I can do to remember to pack lunches, fold the laundry, turn on the dishwasher, and shower myself. This time of year I also have to add to the list watering the Christmas tree, planning school parties, and getting all the shopping done. I DO NOT need anything else to remember every night and I would inevitably forget. Often.
2. That brings me to the second reason – the lies!! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Santa. I love helping the kids make their lists and shopping for their items. I love seeing their faces light up on Christmas morning. However, as the kids get older, it gets more and more difficult to continue the charade. (In fact, my oldest who is 10, has known the truth for about 2 years now.) I find myself having to work really hard to spin some serious yarn in an effort to keep the myth going. Some of the questions I have gotten in the past couple years:
“Why do they do Toy for Tots, etc. Doesn’t Santa bring toys to the poor kids??”
“Why can’t I get all 271 items on my list?? Santa doesn’t have to pay for them because his elves make everything!
“How come Santa is at this store when my friend said they saw him at that store?”
“Are you sure it’s o.k. to put glitter in the reindeer food? It might be bad for them.”
Now, if my kids are already asking questions like these and I am wracking my brain to answer them “correctly,” can you imagine what would happen if when I forget to move Mr. Elf or when one of them accidentally touches him??? I simply refuse to set myself up for that kind of drama!
3. The third reason is that I spend my whole life cleaning up messes – washing laundry, washing dishes, sorting through paper, picking up toys and shoes, wiping spills… Why on Earth would I endeavor to create even more messes that I will undoubtedly have to clean up as well?!?!? Oh, the elf baked cookies and made a big mess with the flour? Who is going to clean up that flour??? Last night he took all the toys out of the toy box?? Who do you think is going to put them back in??? Or maybe he had a marshmallow snowball fight with Barbie. Who is going to pick up all those marshmallows??? (Well, probably the dog in that case. But that could lead to an entirely different kind of mess if you know what I mean!) To me, this sounds like nothing short of torture – spend hours on Pinterest researching ideas, work tirelessly and tediously to set up elf mischief every night for at least 25 nights, then clean up all of those messes myself. It is just not common sense-ical folks!!!
4. For my fourth reason, I am going to have to get on my soapbox just a bit. I know a lot of you out there find the whole thing fun and do it for the sake of tradition and, again, that is fantastic. However, I have also heard many parents rave about how well their children behave during the weeks before Christmas because they know that “Elfie” is watching. Personally, I have a problem with that. I don’t want my children to behave just because they are afraid of getting in trouble if they don’t or just because they are hoping for big rewards in the end. I want my children to behave because they know, intrinsically, that it is the right thing to do. And, I want them to behave this way ALL THE TIME – not only when there is the threat of a psychotic elf looming over their heads. Am I being a tad over analytical?? Perhaps. O.K. Probably. But, that is how I feel. The first time I heard about the elf that is how it was presented to me – as a way to make your kids behave – and it just left a sour taste in my mouth that I have never forgotten.
5. The final reason I don’t participate is that I refuse to simply succumb to the madness and jump on the bandwagon. Obviously, I am not a big fan of the Elf. I can envision it creating much hassle and drama in this household. However, I have honestly considered doing it because I didn’t want my kids to miss out. I didn’t want them to be the only ones who haven’t experienced this fun tradition just because their mom was too lazy to do it. But is it worth the stress and commotion it would surely create?? Are my children going to be permanently scarred if we don’t get an elf??? I have decided the answer to both of those questions is “NO!”Share your thoughts!