A friend posted this article on Facebook today. It's a cute story about parents who take the month of November to set up crazy scenarios for their kids to discover using plastic, toy dinosaurs. They wanted to spur on their kid's imagination and felt like this was a great way to do so while creating magic and wonder. I love this article, their ideas, and delight in trying to imagine what the girls would think. It seems very much to me like the "Elf on the Shelf" idea.
I love the idea of Elf on the Shelf for all the fun scenarios your kids can wake up to discover. There are blogs and pins devoted to different ideas for what to do. But something about the game rubs me the wrong way. As I told my friend who posted the dinosaur article, the whole "reporting back to Santa about your nice or naughty status" really rubs me the wrong way. And this is coming from a person who, as a kid, was almost definitely on the nice list. I think it is hard to hold that over a kid's head for these months out of the year.
Granted, we are not necessarily a heavy Santa family. We take free pics with Santa at Chick Fil A, the girls think he hands out candy canes and apples, and we haven't had to address the "is he real or not" question yet. When that time comes, we have decided to emphasize the original meaning of Santa, encouraging the kids to look for opportunities to find ways to be Santa, and to tell them it is a wonderful game that families play and for families to decide when it is best for kids to know the truth behind the game or not. I will report back on how that goes...
So why the fuss over the naughty or nice list if we aren't a Santa heavy family? Because of what it implies about Christmas. It should be no secret that Christmas is/can be/should be a heavily Christian holiday. I'm not going to argue about the origins of Christmas and whether or not this time of year was actually when His birth took place. I will argue that, for Christians, this time of year is special. We give gifts in love, we try to help out others, and we take extra time to be with family. It's nice. On a more religious side, Christians remember the gift that Jesus and His birth was. His birth, life, death, and resurrection was not just a gift, it was The Gift. It was The Gift that changed everything and it was freely given. There was no naughty or nice list, no checking it twice, no single action or deed that could put you on or take your name off of this gift. By simply holding out your hands and heart to accept, you are the recipient of The Gift. So by adding the naughty and nice component of The Elf on the Shelf game, you are nullifying the freely given Gift that we are all eligible to receive.
Am I calling for the downfall of Elf on the Shelf? No. I think it is a really fun game. But it is simply not for our family in that aspect. I think it's odd that the kids aren't allowed to touch the Elf or the magic goes away and frankly, I think they look a little like the dummy puppets used by ventriloquists. However, as stated, I love the fun antics that Moms and Dads get to put the Elf in for extra Christmas fun. I think after seeing the Dinosaur antics and Elf antics, we may have to come up with our own Christmas fun, just in a different way that fits our family better!