In the past two weeks, the following articles have been published to the Huffington Post's Parents vertical:
· Why The Elf On The Shelf Will Not Be Coming To My House
· Why We Finally Gave Up on the Elf on the Shelf
· A Better Use of the Elf on a Shelf
· Sorry, Kid. Elf on the Shelf Is Not Gonna Happen.
· 12 Reasons Why Our Elf Did Not Fly to the North Pole Last Night
· 21 Easy, Hassle-Free Elf On The Shelf Ideas
· OMG Enough With the Elf Hate
How did a seemingly innocuous piece of Christmas decor kick off a parental culture war? A little background: It first appeared in 2005, packaged with a children's picture book titled The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. The idea is to hide the elf in a different place every day, to give kids the illusion that one of Santa's helpers is surveilling them while they're awake, reporting back to the big man at night re: good behavior, and returning the next day to find a new vantage point. Here's what Huffington Post contributors have to say about this young tradition, which has in recent years brought annual earnings in the tens of millions to publisher Creatively Classic Activities and Books.
Miranda Gargasz, in Why The Elf On The Shelf Will Not Be Coming To My House:
As you can see, it's a good thing that the Elf on the Shelf missed us. I can't even handle the occasional tooth falling out. Can you imagine the pickle I'd be in if I had to hide a freaking elf every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas? I'd have to make up some story about him being caught in a big snow storm or about him being kidnapped in a spy ring headed by the Tooth Fairy. Somehow, an Elf with a criminal record doesn't sound so Christmasy. Tabatha Kammann reflects on the challenges faced by parents who give up the elf:
I knew that as soon as I started seeing all the ideas flood my newsfeed this year, I would want to jump on the bandwagon. Why do I feel like a bad mom for not pushing the idea and making my child be like everyone else's, so that I can be like the other moms? The truth is, my son isn't like other kids, and at the end of the day, I don't want him to be. So rock on, buddy; at least you won't live your life feeling like somebody's watching you, and I won't be scouring the Internet for new ideas. New ideas, like the kind you would in Huffington Post's Parents vertical. Darcy R. Shapiro has shelved her "Narc Elf" for good, but thinks that the little guy (who can also be a gal, and have a different skin tone) can be put to better ends:
No more threatening my kids with a daily report card. Instead, I am going to treat the Elf how I originally intended him: as a nice little way to get my kids into the festive spirit (he's coming to help us get ready for Christmas!), but I also might throw in a few messages from our Elf with ideas on how they can give back to others. For me, that is what holiday spirit is really about. A writer who goes by the handle Dynamom shares the sentiment, and thinks that non-elf parents should form a coalition:
Fellow non-elf moms and dads, let us unite in solidarity. Let us look upon the cleverly posed elves in our newsfeeds without judgment and choruses of "ugh." Let us lift up our hard-working elfing friends and family while cozily sitting on our butts doing all of our Christmas shopping on Amazon. Let us raise a glass to each other in our glorious laziness. We need each other. I am here for you. Though it looks as if anti-Elf-Shelf sentiment has reached its apex, there are still some vocal Elfpologists out there, like Heather Spohr:
Do some people put their elves in all-out scenarios every night? Yep! And it looks like a lot of work to an outsider. It might be, it might not be, but it doesn't matter because guess what? Putting the elf in a situation every day is not required. It isn't in the book; you don't have to do it. Who cares if your kids' friends have crazy elves? You don't have to keep up with the Joneses. Annabel's best buddy at school is having a petting zoo birthday party, but there's no way in hell I am having one at our house. I can't be around llamas again. My point is it's on us, as parents, to manage the expectations of our own children. When Annie wants to know why our elf just moves around the house, but Lizzie's elf eats tiny doughnuts and plays video games and has snowball fights, I just say, "Because that's her elf at her house. Our elf is different. Eat your breakfast."
The holiday season: a time for togetherness? It would seem not, as long as we're worried about the elves on our neighbors' shelves.