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Kids & Fun! Kids & Fun!

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
  • 18 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):
eds6619
by on Dec. 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

 We like the elf

sheena696
by Platinum Member on Dec. 10, 2012 at 6:23 PM

 I like the Elf on the Shelf yet I  don't. Only because we have done the Elf thing for a long time. We just don't have the "elf on the shelf". Both our kids have their own elves (that they don't see} that check up on them and do different things. So I don't really like the toy elf thing.

Ultra_
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 1:29 AM

I never liked it. Not for the reason of privacy loss. Lol. That's silly. I just think it's overpriced and a trend. People LOVE it because it's a new "mommy" thing. You can get some weird looks when you say you DON'T like it. I don't see why people don't do it with any old elf toy if they DO want to do it. Then do it all year too, because Santa checks behaviour for the year no? Or is it just the month? -_-


jbyrd898
by Jessica on Dec. 11, 2012 at 6:29 AM

I havent used the elf, but Joey is only two. Maybe next year. It sounds cute.

AleaKat
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 6:32 AM
We love it! My kids always look for it every morning and tell it what they want for Christmas. It's very cute.
It's just a fun little thing to do for the holidays so many ppl insist on reading too far into things. Just have fun with it.
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sheena696
by Platinum Member on Dec. 11, 2012 at 8:39 AM

 

Quoting Ultra_:

I never liked it. Not for the reason of privacy loss. Lol. That's silly. I just think it's overpriced and a trend. People LOVE it because it's a new "mommy" thing. You can get some weird looks when you say you DON'T like it. I don't see why people don't do it with any old elf toy if they DO want to do it. Then do it all year too, because Santa checks behaviour for the year no? Or is it just the month? -_-

 My sister has an elf that we had gotten years ago from our aunt. Our aunt used them as part of her decorating on gifts so my sister ended up using it. It looks nothing like the Elf on the Shelf. And our "elves" do randomly do things during the year. :)

Babybear89
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM
I'm not creative enough for the elf
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sweetmissy_05
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:08 AM

I am wanting to get the Elf next Christmas-I think the kids will like him.

Babybear89
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:17 AM
Has any one seen.the naughty elf pics pretty funny
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MaryanneMac
by on Dec. 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

We like Elf on a Shelf

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