Everyone seems to have an Elf that hides somewhere on a shelf, watching over the children at Christmas and reminding them that they are being watched. "You better behave. It's almost Christmas and the Elf is watching." I'm sure it works in most households. There are two thoughts that ran through my head when watching the Elf on a Shelf frenzy. One, who is the marketing genius behind this little pointy eared doll that has people paying 29.99 to threaten their children with good behavior, and two, would it work in my house? I don't have the answer to the first question, but I got my answer a few weeks ago to the second.
My four year old daughter got glimpse of an Elf on a shelf in a store.
Pointing, "What's that doll with the pointy ears?"
"That's an Elf", I replied.
"Oh, why is he way up there on the shelf and not at the North Pole with Santa?"
"Um, well," I realized this was my shot to put the Elf on the Shelf idea to work. "He's here to watch and make sure you are being good. If you're not, he'll report back to Santa." I watch closely for a reaction on her sweet chunky face.
"But it's a doll."
Okay, time to change tactics. "Maybe it is just there to remind you that Santa is watching and you need to behave."
"Oh, well that's creepy." She makes a face at the doll and quickly turns her back to it.
Creepy, not exactly the message I believe the creators of Elf on a Shelf were going for. Which got me to thinking what do I want my children to remember at Christmas time beside the birth of Jesus? I realized I didn't have any desire to have them behave only because "Santa is watching" or "You don't want to be put on the naughty list". But believe me, I've used both of those phrases many times in my 12 years of being a parent. I'm trying to evolve a little in my parenting skills as I get older. I want them to embrace the spirit of Christmas, for them to enjoy giving and celebrating this beautiful season in which God gave us His only Son. I want them to realize that gifts and Santa, and Christmas decorations are just part of the celebration, but that there is much more.
For children, a little reminder each day helps them. Which is why Elf On A Shelf, I believe is so popular. It is an easy thing to point to and say "Remember". But, I already realized the creepy Elf was not going to cut it at my house. But I knew who would. Someone whom they recognized. Someone that they knew was naughty at times and made mistakes, but that in the end realized what Christmas was truly all about.
So Merry Christmas to you all and may the spirit of Christmas reside in your heart for always.
PS. My quote from Wednesday's post was from Truman Capote's Christmas Memory. If you have never read it I highly recommend it!