Grinch List #5: Elves on Shelves
The last few Decembers I have made a Grinch List– things that I would steal from the holiday season if I could. This year I’m going to try to turn that list into something positive. Along with the reasons I am annoyed by each item, I will try to find a solution–an angle to adjust the way I feel about it in order to celebrate the season appropriately. I can’t promise I will change my mind about anything, but I can attempt to change my attitude.
Alright! It’s time to offend some people!
So far I have gone after Christmas traditions that are either universally despised or have at least been relegated to the “It’s going to happen anyway, I might as well get used it” pile. Not today. Hang on to your pointy, bell-adorned socks because I’m about to knock them off. You’re about to get slapped across your overly-blushed smiling face, Elf on the Shelf.
To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways?
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
Your flimsy, stuffed arms can reach…
Seriously, let’s count the ways:
- The premise is kind of creepy. Santa sends an elf to your house to spy on you? Back in my day Santa did his own field work and the elves worked hard for their paychecks. They weren’t hanging out in a temperate climate zone eating cookies during the North Pole’s busy season.
- The elf looks really creepy. I try not to judge people or even inanimate objects on appearance, but I can’t be the only one who expects one of these dolls to turn its head and speak to me in a tiny, threatening voice. “I seeee you. Santa seeeeeees you tooooo-oooo. Hee hee hee hee hee.”
- It’s a misrepresentation of Elven culture. Elves don’t sit around smiling, and getting themselves into hilarious situations before freezing in place so children can laugh. Elves hang out with noble hobbits, murderous dwarves, and eagle-summoning wizards. They kill orcs and their bows aren’t made of ribbon. Legalos would nuor vanwa e’ ho sapsa.
Three. Hmmm. I thought it would be a higher number.
Yet these annoying little elves on shelves aid in one of the greatest facets of this season–parents intentionally doing things simply to see joy in their children’s eyes (and then posting pictures of that joy on Facebook). I don’t have to like the doll itself or even the supposed reason it’s on that shelf, but I do appreciate what it does for families. So the next time I see a picture of that North Pole factory worker on vacation in someone’s living room, I may cringe, but…
I will let the Elf on the Shelf be a reminder that I can and should be intentional in bringing joy into the lives of others, especially my children.