Allow me to start by saying that I have no judgment for any moms or families who participate in this tradition. Just because I feel this way doesn’t mean that I expect anyone else to. That being said, if you do participate in this tradition and hold it sacred, you might not want to read on.
As an adult, I find the notion that we’re going to pretend that there is a possessed toy in our household that comes alive at night and does naughty things ridiculous.
I mean, does anyone remember CHUCKY?
I spent years trying to go to sleep at night without locking every toy that had a face in my closet. After many sleepless nights and a few years of counseling, I took hold of my life and decided dolls do not come alive and do not do naughty things.
Then came those possessed things called Firbys.
I had one. It talked when I did not ask it to, and it died a horrible Firby death so that I could maintain peace of mind that toys only interacted when I picked them up and made them interact.
My husband and I made a conscious choice to try to keep all of our children’s toys noise-free (or at a minimum) so walking through our children’s room was not like some kind of preschool music mine sweep. This also means that if I ever did find a toy randomly talking to me, I would know for sure that it was possessed, and I would be calling in a priest.
Then came Elfie.
I was working at a day center in Ashland when I first learned of Elf on the Shelf. I told my staff immediately that I was not comfortable with the elf, and if they wanted to do it that was fine with me, but please do not expect me to play along.
I’d love to tell you that they were respectful, but once they knew the elf scared me, they tormented me with him. He drank my coffee, he stole my laptop, he found his way into my service dog’s bed, and so many other places.
Recently, I was at a holiday gathering with other mom’s who clearly celebrate the elf tradition. I relocated the elf so he wasn’t in our photo and you would have thought that I slapped a kitten. Grown women shrieked.
Put him back! Don’t let the kids see!”
I just looked around in disbelief.
I’m not sure about any of you, but I have enough stress in my life than to worry about:
- Waking up every night and faking a naughty mess to clean up in the morning. (There are enough real messes without the fake ones.)
- What if I forget to move the elf?
- What lie will I tell my children about the elf today?
- Remember which lie I told my children…
…and all the other stress that pointy red toy brings with it.
It’s also another conversation like this:
“The elf does not exist. Yes, mom knew. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
Aside from my personal feelings about having a possessed toy in my household…
There’s also the aspect that I’m telling my child they should behave because the possessed toy is watching them! No, thank you.
You should behave because your mom asked you to behave and because it’s the right thing to do—not because the toy asked you to. As an adult, I keep my clothes on and not throw a tantrum because it’s not appropriate, not because the toy will be disappointed with me or tell Santa.
In my very humble and grinch-like opinion, there are so many other holiday traditions that I can share with my children that don’t increase the stress on any of us yet still involve closeness, smiles, happiness, truth, and still create magical memories—all at the same time.