It's December. The start of the countdown to Christmas. For most it's a reminder to put up trees, realise you don't have any pay days left to buy presents and start the non stop binge fest with your first advent calendar choccie.
But over the past few years, December 1st has marked the day when your social media feed (if you are friends with many parents) becomes full of images of an elf. In their home doing various activities each day to keep their kids entertained and well behaved until Christmas. Yes people, it's Elf on the Shelf day.
But there are no plans for an elf to make an appearance in our home any time soon.
- It's just plain creepy. The elf always looks a bit shifty, with those unhealthily large eyes. That side eye expression 👀 is the kind of look that brings back memories of 80s/90s horror films. Granted I probably shouldn't have been watching these films but it still weirds me out!
- It's a LOT of work. I can just about think of something to feed my kids everyday, let alone a different activity for a fear-inducing elf with strangely long legs. You have to be fully committed to the process before it falls flat on its face. And even when that happens, you'd have to come up with a pretty good excuse as to why the elf left so soon. Why bother!
- Is it really for the kids? While we say it gets the kids to behave before Christmas, I have a sneaky suspicion many parents do it for the social media kudos of likes loves and lols. Whilst I am always impressed by the creative lengths people go to, it can start to breed parental competitiveness.
- It's another step away from the meaning of Christmas. I get that it's not only Christians that celebrate the festive season. But by basically bribing kids for a set period of 24 days, are we kind of telling them that's the whole point of Christmas? Just Gifts? I'm yet to see an elf leave a quirky note telling a child to go and do something for charity or a homeless person.
- It's bribery without parental guilt. Face it. No parent wants or likes to tell their child they can't have something. So by shifting that decision making to another party - in this case, a creepy elf - it lightens the burden.
- Does it really encourage genuine good behaviour? Great if kids behave really well in the run up to Christmas in the hope they'll get the goodies they wanted. But what about the other 11 months of the year? Why behave if there's no reward? Either go full throttle and bribe them 365 days a year or not at all! Seriously though, shouldn't we just be encouraging kids to be well all the time without it being linked to a reward.
- It's creepy. Yeah, know I've said this, but the idea of a toy just appearing in your home from out of the blue, watching your every move does feel a bit bizarre. I didn't realise Christmas gave us free reign to encourage stalking or intimidation!
Ok - I know it's all a bit of fun, but with all the pressures of modern parenting, I just don't have the time, energy or imagination for another unnecessary burden on my list.
I'll be keeping an eye out for everyone else's elf antics though!