Passionate About Boston
and the Moms Who Live Here

No Elfen Tattletales Here :: Why I Chose to Leave the Elf on the (Store) Shelf!

Photo of “Elf on the Shelf” courtesy Michel Curi via Flickr.

I’m the mom you roll your eyes at. I go ALL OUT for holidays. I set up elaborate holiday breakfasts, stash away dozens of holiday-themed books, make birthdays a full-on experience. I love giving gifts, and I love making memories for my kids.

But guess what. That stinkin’ Elf you see everywhere? Not in my house! We are Elfless. 

This decision didn’t come easy. Early in my mom career I realized that along with every well-intentioned comment of, “Do what’s best for you and your child” also comes a Judgy McJudgerson who thinks that what you’re doing is straight up WRONG. While I am probably the most *festive* in my group of mom friends, I’m also one of the only moms who doesn’t have an Elf for her children. Initially, I felt like by deciding not to have an Elf, I was somehow neglecting a magical part of my boys’ childhood. But you know what? Being Elfless is one way I care for myself around the holidays. 

If the Elf visits your home and it makes you happy, that makes ME happy. You do you. However, if thinking about the Elf gives you hives and you simply don’t WANT to have one, don’t! I give you permission.

These are the reasons I chose to leave the Elf on the (store) shelf:

1. Once you start, you can’t stop.

If the Elf shows up for kiddo #1, you’re stuck with that little bugger for YEARS to come. Kiddo #3 deserves the Elf, too, right? I had dreams of having a whole bunch of babies and knew that if I started with an elf for kiddo #1, I was in for years of work.

2. I have too much going on to worry about moving a darn stuffed Elf every night.

I’m a part-time working mom. I have a household to run, kids and a husband to love, and sanity to maintain. To be honest, shouldering the responsibility of moving the Elf would absolutely make me Grinchy during a time of the year when I’m usually happy and hopped up on the spirit of the season. Why would I take on an extra activity that gives me stress just for the twinkle in my kids’ eyes for maybe five of the 30 days I move the thing? This is what’s best for ME as the mommy.

3. There is plenty of “magic” in the holiday season already.

We see the Elf in every store we walk into. He’s in a BOX on the shelf at Target. What’s magic about that? Now, don’t get me wrong — Santa does visit our house. But, if I’m being frank, even THAT was a hard choice to make. We emphasize that all the Santas we see around are his “helpers,” and that Santa only visits on Christmas Eve. The careful bites that Santa’s reindeer take of the carrots we leave them, the delight of tracking Santa’s progress across the world on the evening news… that’s enough for me.

In our home, we describe Christmas as a time to show love by gifting thoughtful, often handmade, gifts. The focus for us is more on giving than on receiving — the root of the original Christmas story. The Elf just isn’t in line with how I describe Christmas to my children.

4. The Elf is a tiny narc.

I don’t like the idea of having to explain to my child that a tiny being is WATCHING him all the time and “reporting back” to Santa. I feel the same way about Santa Claus. In our house, you are given gifts as a sign of love and appreciation for you and for the spirit and meaning of Christmas, not because you were “good.” You are expected to always be “good.” We spend a lot of our time coaching our children to make “good choices” and to be a “good citizen.” In my opinion, the threat of a tiny Elfen tattletale running to Santa would create false good behavior from my children. And what if my kids actually did something “bad”? Would I refrain from giving them Christmas gifts that year? No way. So, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

5. It was an unintentional lesson for me in parenting.

My son was 2.5 years old the first time he asked why some children in his preschool class had a “special elf” and he didn’t. I was woefully unprepared for any such question and had to think fast. I carefully explained to him that every family is different, and everyone celebrates the holidays in a different way. And I told him that some people may have an Elf, but I do not invite the Elf to our house because I know that my son is a good boy and doesn’t need an Elf to report his behavior to Santa.

I’ve used the same explanation every year since. Just saying the words out loud: “We do not need an Elf in this house” gave me confidence to stand behind my decision, and it allowed me to speak with my son at a very young age about how every family celebrates in a different way based on personal beliefs and convictions. In addition, making a hard-and-fast “no Elf” rule liberated me. I didn’t need to compete with the Elf moms for most hilarious Elf placement. I was happy in my decision to be Elfless. 

Moms already feel intense pressure of perfection during the holiday season. If your Elf brings you joy with his silly antics every night, go for it. But if he doesn’t, it’s OK for him to stay in the North Pole (your attic) next year — or to never visit your house in the first place. 

 

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