The time has come for Ruby, our Elf on the Shelf, to die. Or at least go away, lose her magic, skedaddle.
Reason No. 1 The Elf Must Die
I thought the whole Elf on the Shelf thing was cute a handful years back. Friends posted on Facebook funny pictures of their elf committing all sorts of shenanigans. My daughter was young then. I thought I could introduce it. You know, join the fun. (Fun! Fun?) And it was fun. The first year.
The next year it was sort of fun, but I forgot, from time to time, to move it. I grew bored with planning new ways to “hide” the elf.
This Thanksgiving, I forgot to bring that darn elf out at all. At least that’s what I told myself when I’d finished cleaning the house after dinner. And the next day. And the next.
When I did bring her out, it took the kids days to notice her.
Reason No. 2 The Elf Must Die
Sophie, now five, was terrified to see that the elf had moved and she hadn’t seen who’d done it.
“It’s just a stuffed toy. It can’t be magic. There’s no such thing as magic.”
Apparently, I’m raising Vernon Dursley.
Naturally, like any deceitful parent, I redirected: “How do the reindeer fly? How does Santa make it to so many places in one day?”
Crickets. Eyes as big as ornaments.
“Why don’t you write Santa a note and ask him?”
She seemed to deflate. “I don’t want to. Santa will just tell me it’s magic. But then that means the elf is moving on her own.”
My poor sensitive, fearful child.
Which brings me to the final reason the elf has to die.
Reason No. 3 The Elf Must Die
I feel pretty crappy telling my kids that someone else is watching to make sure they don’t screw up. (I mean, they already have us scrutinizing their every move). This on top of last year’s tears when Sophie heard the words to “Santa Claus is Coming to town.” Sing it to yourself right now. Think about how creepy that can sound to a four-year-old!
He sees you when you are sleeping…
He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
Watch out little children! Eek!
This prompted a letter to Santa: Hey guy, thanks for the presents, but please don’t come into my bedroom.
I’m not even kidding. We wrote that note. I nearly bursted the Santa bubble right there.
Since that letter last year, I’ve put the kibosh on the theme of threatening the kids with coal or no presents if they’re not perfect in the run up to Christmas.
I was happy to see I wasn’t alone in my feelings. Kate Orson, Hand in Hand Parenting instructor and author of the book, Tears Heal: How to Listen to Our Children, talks about exactly this on her blog post “Why Santa Claus could be making your parenting harder.”
All of this: my apathy, Sophie’s fear and my growing dislike of threats to get children to do what we want, its the writing on the holy-decked halls. We are done with the elf, at least as we know it now.
What To Do with the Elf
Santa will be writing a memo this week and it will go something like this:
Re: The Naughty/Nice list.
We are no longer keeping tabs good or bad kids. Nope, we are shredding that ol’ Nauty-or-Nice list.
Why the sudden change? After hundreds of years, we see over and over again that kids try their best every day, all year long. Sometimes their best turns out to be… a bit of a mess. But here’s a secret! Grown ups mess up a lot, too.
The important thing is that everyone — kids and grownups — keep learning and growing and making decisions that help them to be the best person they can be.
We can all learn to be kind to one another, to help people who need some helping, and that is some real magic there!
So here is the new directive from the North Pole: Get lots of laughs, ask questions when you’re curious, work hard, and when you mess up–and we all do–do your best to learn from it and keep trying.
Now we need your help. What to do with your elf?
Would you like her to:
1) Come back to the North Pole to help me with toy making?
2) Make a doll that looks like her to leave her at your house for you to play with?
She is happy to do whatever you like.
Wishing you a magical, frosty Christmas,
Your friends at the North Pole,
Mr. & Mrs. Claus, the elf nation, Frosty the Snowman and all the reindeer
Elf on the shelf via Shutterstock