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Elf on the Shelf ® Backlash Starts New Battle in the War Between Moms! Do you like or dislike the elf?

Posted by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:22 PM
  • 42 Replies

Elf on the Shelf ® Backlash Starts New Battle in the War Between Moms


elf on the shelfThe Elf on the Shelf® may SEEM like a simple creature -- an elf/minion of Santa Claus who comes out every year on Thanksgiving and switches places each night so children can enjoy searching for him every morning. It's a holiday "tradition" that started just a few years ago when writer Carol Aebersold self-published a book about her own holiday tradition.

The idea is simple in her original book -- The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition®. The elf watches the family and observes their behavior, flying back nightly to Santa to report on their behavior and then coming back to a new position to watch the family again.

It all seems so innocuous! So innocent! So whimsical! So why are SO many moms turning this into the new mommy wars?

The amount of backlash around this darn elf would be comical were it not real and highly contentious. In one camp there are the "cool" moms and, in the other, the Betty Crocker wannabes who hide the doll with home baked cookies, gifts, and unique accessories.

It is, admittedly, exhausting if you play it that way. But who does that? We did the Elf last year (this year it's in storage as we are mid-move) and it was fun. But we never told our kids the elf was "watching them" or reporting on their behavior. We just said he was a cute elf visiting for December and they could look for him. My husband and I did minimal effort, hiding him in the same places multiple times, and my kids thought it was hilarious.

That's as deep as it went, people. That's it. And most of my friends who DO do it have similar stories. Of course, though, like any other lightning rod parenting issue, this elf has its haters.

Naturally, there is some real snobbery and sanctimony inherent to the Elf on the Shelf® hatred. There is a "kind" of woman who does it and a "kind" of woman who doesn't. The latter are way too cool for school and spend a lot of time hating on the former kind. As Mary Elizabeth Williams says in her column for Salon:

... he’s an Orwellian nightmare. Let’s teach our children that privacy is meaningless! I may have grown up with a Santa who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, but my Santa was never lurking around in my house, keeping tabs on me for weeks at a time. I don’t know, I just find the whole concept of an advent-long period of intense scrutiny by some judgmental little voyeur in a pointy hat creepy.

But does he have to be? Couldn't he just be a fun little scavenger hunt for kids? Couldn't he just be a bit of magic and excitement in the morning and nothing more? Why does everyone have to take everything so darn seriously? 

Obviously, at some schools where this elf is de rigueur, it's a competition that adds stress to an already hectic holiday month. In addition, it's an artificial "tradition" that is marketed to the hilt. But it was once Aebersold's own tradition, something her parents did for her. And presumably she wanted to share it not to get rich, but to share something that meant something to her.

There is pressure to do the best elf hiding places and presents and on and on, and sure, that is annoying. It feels like one more huge thing in a month that is already chock-full of "huge things" between buying gifts for family, friends, and teachers; attending parties; and baking non-stop. But that pressure is self-created. I half assed the whole thing last year and my kids still loved it. We can't do everything with our kids and that has to be OK. 

I think the hatred of the elf has more to do with our own perceived failings and mom guilt than with anything else. Not everything has to be done just so. Sometimes just doing it can be fun. Or not. If you hate it, don't do it. But don't walk around writing essays about how stupid the elf is or how awful the moms who do it are. Why not just live and let live? Do you and I'll do me, thanks.

One thing I know for sure this holiday season: If I need a darn elf to tell me what "kind" of mom I am or what "kind of woman" -- urban versus suburban, a mom with a life versus Betty Crocker -- then I have bigger problems than just a lack of holiday spirit.

Do you like or dislike the elf? Why do you think people are so obsessed with it?

 

by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:22 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Babujai
by Bronze Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:30 PM
2 moms liked this

 I don't like or dislike the elf...I simply don't have time for it.  I can barely remember to do the necessaries every day.

conniejo75
by Bronze Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:34 PM
I think it is completely stupid. Even if I had younger kids I wouldn't do it
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conniejo75
by Bronze Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 3:39 PM
7 moms liked this

Couldn't resist sharing :) saw this on FB today.
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Jinxed8
by Gold Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 4:34 PM
1 mom liked this

I think it's a fun idea ... I can sort of see both sides of the debate though. I think you make it what you want it to be. My DD's too old for that anyways and I'd the type to forget to move the darn thing and my german shepherd would probably shred it to a 1000 pieces lol !!

TAG_ur_it
by Bronze Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM
2 moms liked this

i'd do it but our elf would be naughty and try to pin things on the kids.  like eating the last of the chips and putting the bag back or leaving an empty milk jug...  oh wait.  they do that anyway. lol.  but we would do funny, not cutesy. a friend of mine's elf pees blue and poops marshmallows apparently. 

Izsarejman
by Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:19 PM
4 moms liked this

My kids know it's a doll. I tried to give them some line about how it's a spirit that is in the elf and that's why he hides. My daughter asked if it was possessed or sometng. Our elf tradition lasted all of 3 days. 

countrymomma81
by Platinum Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM

We weren't going to do one but our son asked for one. We'll try it next year, although my kids will be 6 and 11 by then. Too old in my opinion but that's what they asked for. 

mumsy2three
by Shauna on Dec. 10, 2012 at 7:14 PM
1 mom liked this

I think the elf is creepy!

I don't like clowns or dolls though so that may be why I have no desire to bring one into my house, lol.

Momof2almost
by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 9:22 PM
We love our elf (Elfy) because it is a fun interaction that we have with our kids! They enjoy it, we enjoy it. If anyone has any issue with what we are doing with our kids then thats okay because we aren't doing it for everyone else; only for our boys. Other people can get over it or not, I really don't care.
KylesMom409
by Linnette on Dec. 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM
I agree, and I don't either!

Quoting mumsy2three:

I think the elf is creepy!

I don't like clowns or dolls though so that may be why I have no desire to bring one into my house, lol.

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