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It’s December. Elves are appearing in homes. Except my house.

Sorry, call me a Scrooge but I really do not like the Elf on the Shelf idea. I already feel guilty about lying to my kids about Santa. Yes, I enjoyed the gifts and, later, keeping the secret from my siblings but it seems so different as a parent.

“Do not lie, kids” versus “Yes, Santa flies around the world in one night delivering toys.” Not to mention all the “I don’t knows” and “It’s magics” and “I can’t answer thats” that I have to tell my kids when they start questioning how he manages to do it, why we don’t have an Elf, why some kids don’t get presents, etc. Perhaps this rant stems from the fact that parents are now writing apology letters from Santa to their children when they can’t get/afford the gift the kid wants. What are we teaching our kids? Those “innocent little lies” are getting out of control.

So, no, Elf does not come into my house. Santa is already a stretch and I have to keep telling myself to let my 7-year-old enjoy the magic of make-believe. Along with the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.

Maybe I’m just cheap. If I got rid of these characters, I could also get rid of the extra presents, money-for-teeth, etc. Well, OK, I probably would still engage in these but with a different twist.

Back to Elf. I know people who LOVE that little snoopy tattletale. They are like “Oh, my kids are so well-behaved when {insert Elf’s name here} is around in December. I love it.” Sorry…but isn’t part of the parents’ blackmail suppose to be “Santa is watching you” year-round? Not just December.

What happens to kids who engage in less-than-positive behaviors January-November and then suddenly grow wings and don a halo for December? As a therapist, I’d say there’s a little issue there. Mostly, that issue centers around the fact that they CAN make positive choices when they choose to do so. On more than one occasion, while I was working in group home settings, the kids would tell me “I’m just going to fake it until I make it.” They were usually taken aback when I said “Good. You do that. I dare you. Let’s see how quickly you can change your behaviors and get out of here.” That would be followed by the suspicious “Aren’t you even worried that I’m going to be faking it?” and I’d reply “Nope. If you make it through the honeymoon period (that’s the several weeks where the troubled kids act ‘perfect’ in hopes of proving they have no problems) and can continue to fake it for the entirety of your stay, then I KNOW you can make positive choices. Therefore, what that will tell me is that you also CHOOSE to make the negative choices in your life. AND THAT will tell me that you must now accept the responsibility for those choices and stop blaming others for your choices.”

OK, set aside my therapy experience. Let’s say the Elf really does help kids change their ways and they are more positive the rest of the year. I still don’t like it, and it’s because I’m selfish and lazy.

I see all these posts on social media with these elves in their frozen situations. Many of the elves are NAUGHTY. I mean, come on! Let’s teach our kids to make positive choices so their Elf can report it to Santa; meanwhile, he/she is caught in the hot tub with the Barbies? Ya, I get it. Those posts are meant for adults but you KNOW kids see the pictures, and some probably get to see the “live” version.

OK, now set aside the naughty little elves. Social media still has a thousand ways to reposition Elf (come on, there’s only 25-30 days he/she is in the home, depending when you start the lie). I am just too plain lazy to take the time to set up these scenarios. I’m lucky if I remember to pay my kid for a tooth, much less take the time to look up or think up where and how to reposition Elf. Roasting s’mores with action figures, making hot cocoa…heck, just moving him/her from one spot to another or being unable to use spaces in my home because YOU CAN’T TOUCH THE ELF!…these are stressors I don’t want at night! I’ve seen what happens when a parent forgets to move the Elf. Talk about massive panic and tantrums from the kids! Elf didn’t report to Santa last night! No, thanks, I’ll do without that extra stress.

Did I mention I’m cheap, too? Why would I buy a bag of marshmallows so Elf can have a “bubble” bath in my sink? Sorry, Elf, those are for my hot cocoa. Go buy your own marshmallows.

I know there are other parents out there like me. We may be few and far-between but we exist. That said, all to their own. If you want to buy an Elf (or unpack him/her from that hidden spot in your closet), that’s fine with me. Just please, don’t pressure me or mock me or flaunt it in front of my kids so they feel terrible. Let’s agree to disagree and to raise our children the best way we know how with the resources we have at our disposal.

However, if your Elf has a thing for cleaning house while MOM sleeps, then I’m quite willing to let him/her live in my house year-round!

The Elf Is Shelved by Jondejong via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC BY.

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.

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