In the December 18 edition of the Wall Street Journal, an article entitled “What Parents Want for Christmas Is the Elf Off Their Shelf” caught my attention.
The article explains that many families – especially parents with little ones – are tired of staging creative scenarios for the Christmas elf tradition they have established in their home. The idea has blossomed beyond reasonable.
For those who are not familiar with the Elf on the Shelf Christmas concept, the elf is a friendly scout sent by Santa to watch over the kids and to witness whether the tots are being naughty or nice. During the elf’s stay in the home, the little guy moves around, partakes of life, and often returns to the North Pole during night time hours to report behaviors to Santa.
The elf concept originated from a book written in 2005 by Carol Aebersold. The book is entitled, Elf on the Shelf.
The elf notion started as fun, and then maybe it morphed into a bit of a ploy to get children to behave better, but all in all, in the beginning it seemed innocent.
Today, however, it appears this parental scheme, which originates from commercialism, has evolved into a frenzy, or better yet, a hard core competition to see which parent or family can outdo the other.
And, there are several websites to assist in this endeavor. There is an Elf on the Shelf Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram site, a website for gleaning ideas, and site for displaying ‘your personal best schemes’ as well. Pinterest is full of ideas. Parents may also purchase elf props, elf friends, elf clothing, elf toys, etc., the list goes on and on.
The Wall Street Journal article cited one family who had their elf dating Barbie, and of course after the courtship, the elf and Barbie wed. Now, Barbie is pregnant.
Another family has their elf in the military with GI Joe and the two engage in countless maneuvers.
Another set up barricades for snowball fights using marshmallows.
Another elf was seen hang gliding across the ceiling with Superman. And let’s not forget the elf that TP-ed the family Christmas tree.
Who is all this creative nonsense for, the kids or competitive parents?
Or, is it just commercialism?
Over the years, parents have embraced the need to attain that “must have toy” for their children, especially at Christmas.
I remember searching to find Furby, Tickle Me Elmo, Cabbage Patch Kids, Beanie Babies, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Toys that are, or should we say were, all the rage. Toys come and go.
Upon finishing the Elf on the Shelf article, it seemed frivolous that parents focus so seriously on this kind of silly nonsense at Christmas.
But, what about all the other age-old traditions, such as, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Ebenezer Scrooge, Nutcracker Prince, Grinch, Sugar Plum Fairy, Jack Frost, and of course, I almost forgot, Santa Claus. How do we fit them all in?
Perhaps, as a nation, maybe as a community, we have lost focus and fail to remember the real meaning of the Christmas holiday season.
So for those of us who chose to refocus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas, let’s not only take that elf off the shelf, but also reassess the other fantasy characters as well, and consider putting them in the back seat, where they belong.