“Elf on the Shelf” Is More For Yourself
A long time ago, in a parenthood far away, the only thing parents really needed to do for their kids at Christmas (besides buy presents and decorate) was to get the obligatory Santa shot. It was the wonderful seasonal photo of your children sitting on Santa’s lap, taken after standing in line for an interminably long time at the crowded mall, with at least one of your children sobbing uncontrollably because even though they like presents from the fat guy, they don’t really like him. You would probably get a photo package and send the wallets to Aunt Deb and Grandma Sue and be done with it. Then you could coast until Christmas Eve, bake some cookies, and leave a couple of the ones your family didn’t eat for Santa.
Then came the advent of social media. Sure, everyone still does that Santa pic (myself included). But the problem is, you can only post or tweet about it once and get so many ‘likes’ for it. And you can’t show off your cookies and homemade gobbledygook every day. So how else are people supposed to know you are being a good mother during the holiday season, dammit? Enter the pinnacle of Christmas consumerism, the creepy, and over-indulgent ‘Elf on a Shelf’.
For the thankfully uninitiated, ‘Elf on the Shelf’ was a scam concept created in 2004 that included a book and a toy elf which centered around the story that the elf flies back to the North Pole every night to return to Santa and report on the host family’s (and particularly the host’s kids’) activities. In the last few years the Elf’s popularity has grown, increasingly infiltrating joining families, with the book and toy topping best-sellers in 2013.
Frankly, ‘Elf on the Shelf’ is like a big old Christmas tourist trap. It’s not enough to buy the stupid Elf and the book. You have to name it and adopt it and give it love for it’s “magic” to kick-in. (Excuse me a second while I shudder). Then it has to theoretically be moved around every night from the time you dust it off in storage until Christmas Eve, because you have to create the illusion that the Elf has been making his rounds to Santa. At this juncture I interject: what the hell is the point??? Isn’t that the entire reason for Santa? He already sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. This wasn’t enough of a threat incentive to keep kids on their good behavior? Do today’s kids need more of an enticement to behave than we did??? Sure, my kids can be pretty crappy sometimes, but the omnipotent Santa Claus is more than enough to keep them in line.
Which brings me to my next point. Why does Santa even need these elves? If he can already see everything, then the elves on shelves are a waste of his resources. They should be up in the North Pole making toys. Santa seriously needs to call a management consulting firm, because there are a bunch of lazy elves coasting on his goodwill and decreasing his bottom line.
Not to be left out of the ruse, Hanukkah revelers came up with their own version of the Elf in 2013, Mensch on a Bench. To be fair, I have never really examined the product, but I am seriously confused as to whom “Mensch” is supposed to report kids’ behavior. Is it God? I mean, the parents already know what their own kids are doing, so mensch is even less useful than the elf.
Of course, with the advent of the Elf came all of his (or hers, if you got a girl) paraphernalia. Now you can buy him clothes and pets. You can even get your Elf his own reindeer. (Again, Santa should be pissed. These elves are really getting benefits that they don’t deserve). I bet all of those add up to a pretty penny.
So these elves are nothing but a total hassle. You have to buy them, buy their crap, and move them around in tons of new and exciting ways. Why do parents mothers torture themselves with this? Some will say that their kids just love to see the Elf and watching him/her move around. But Christmas was not any less special/enjoyable before the elves. ‘Elf on the Shelf’ really began to take off in 2010 and 2011. Is it a random coincidence that Facebook usage exploded after 2009 making it the largest online social media site by 2010? I think not.
With the advent of social media came the pressure and urge to consistently espouse perfect status reports and pictures that concealed reflected your personal life. What a better way to demonstrate your serious commitment to motherhood at Christmas time than ‘Elf on the Shelf’. Now you could show the world how much time and energy you put into creating the perfect Christmas atmosphere for your children every day without blowing the whole thing on one Santa photo.
Look, I get it. Motherhood is a thankless job and unlike work or school you get absolutely no feedback on how you are doing. Posting pictures and statuses on-line so you can get likes and positive comments about your performance totally helps to fill this void. But I really don’t need to see your creative poses for your Elf, see his wardrobe, or hear about his tales of woe. If anything, ‘Elf on the Shelf’ comes off as bragging to me. If you truly believe your kids love this Elf and you are relatively secure in the notion that he is not going to murder you in your sleep, then by all means keep him/her in your home. But for the love of Santa, please stop plastering him all over my Facebook feed. Because then I know it’s not for the kids-it’s for you.
I am mediocre mom!
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