Free the Elf on the Shelf

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…with apologies to my gnome-loving friends…

The holiday season is here which means it’s time for the annual release of the Christmas kraken. It is time to unbox the Elf.

From now until Dec. 25th, my Facebook and Instagram feeds will be overrun with whimsical images of red- and white-clad pixies wreaking havoc on my friends’ homes. Here is Sprinkles mismatching the family socks. There is Squeaky throwing marshmallows at the dog. If I were to unfriend every friend who posted a photo today of that playful puppet with Chuckie’s smile…well, I would be a lonely gal indeed. 

I have girlfriends who swear by the magical and voyeuristic properties of this tiny troll. He is rumored to report directly back to Santa. Thus, children of the house are more compliant with the Elf’s wee beady eyes upon them. A blessing, my friends call it. Creepy, I reply. The Elf is like a nanny cam we use on ourselves. But it’s not just the surveillance component that rattles me, it’s the relentless choreographed merriment.

Did I miss the meeting when parents decided it was our job to perpetually entertain our children? Why not ship the Elf in a large cardboard box and have kids spend the month of December playing in it? I find it flabbergasting that anyone ever looked at the holiday season – with its shopping, wrapping, cooking, parties, and decorating — and thought, It’s just not enough. We need more. 

I would be willing to put up with the spying and shenanigans if I felt like the yearly ritual at least made our family stronger. But, in the end, I think Rascal is merely another diversion from the better work of the season. Whatever your denomination, no matter your beliefs, this time of year beckons us all with bounty and light. Don’t we want our kids to share that bounty and spread their light?

I would fancy the Elf more if he interspersed the clowning with service assignments – “Fill a bag with clothing and donate it to a shelter. Go visit an elderly neighbor.”  But that’s not very festive, you say.

Except what makes more sense?  An Elf who for 24 ½ days rotates around the house unstuffing sofa cushions?  Or an Elf who spends nearly a month of the year teaching our children that they can make the world a better place? 

Let’s free the Elves folks.  And let our inner Santas shine.