Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Give Elves a Chance

Dear People of the Internet,

Recently, I've witnessed something tragic. It's hate. Elf hate. Now, I'm not one to be divisive (as far as you know), but I would like to take a minute to gently persuade all of the Elf on the Shelf haters to calm your freaking shorts.

First, let me acknowledge that Christmas is often a season of stress for parents: more money to spend, more activities to facilitate, more obligatory time spent with people you may or may not like, more plastic crap that no one really needs flowing into your house... it's a yearly opportunity to balloon up five to eleven pounds on nothing more than sugar, flour, butter and some amazing food product referred to as 'sprinkles'. Christmas brings the added daily struggle of keeping your cat out of an awesome, sparkly climbing tree that you installed in the house and decorated with awesome, dangly, sparkly cat toys.

Christmas is a time when trying to keep the focus on a tiny baby born in a humble stable feels almost impossible, because when the first decorations are displayed in stores (as soon as Halloween is over), the 'Christmas Crack'* comes alive.
*For those of you who've yet to spring fruit from your loins, "Christmas Crack' is a behavior that manically excited children display when the season of magic begins, up until Christmas morning when the floor is littered with wrapping paper and legos and your entire month's salary.

I get it. I really do. Christmas, a season celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, often feels overindulgent, commercialized, overblown, and full of fallacy. Expectations on parents to facilitate that kind of high level magic trick can be not only exhausting, but also utterly ridiculous and unattainable. For this, I blame the Internet. And Pinterest. And Martha Stewart. And the election, of course.

That is exactly why our family is filled with gratitude for our Elf on the Shelf, Ellis. In the chaos of Christmas, Ellis has one job: to sit in the house as a reminder to contain the Christmas Crack and remember to embrace true Christmas Spirit. He sits in the tree and my kids are reminded that they need to practice patience and kindness when they disagree over a game of Pick Up Sticks. He sits on the bookshelf and my kids are reminded to help Dad the first time he asks. He sits on the garland and my kids are reminded to help mom clean the kitchen... and their bedroom... and the prolific amount of toothpaste from their bathroom sink. That's it! He helps! Unlike some peoples' elves, who choose naughty activities, our elf is a mere sitter. A steadfast introvert. He just quietly watches the kids from his position (which sometimes doesn't change when he spares himself a flight to the North Pole, which he does a few times a week). He's a second pair of eyes. And he keeps secrets for the kids, who talk to him and write him letters.

In essence, the arrival of our elf Ellis is truly one of the most exciting parts of Christmas for my kids. They look forward to his post-Thanksgiving flight to our house more than almost anything. He represents kindness, respect, hope, sharing, and the sweetest magic of Christmas. He's helping my kids verbalize their feelings and develop their writing skills. And best of all, he's helping me parent at a time of year when I could use an extra pair of eyes because I'm extra busy with an extra set of tasks. And he is doing all of it with his mere presence. I'm not expected to feed him or compliment him or understand his love language or deal with his passive aggressive BS or any of that relationship burden crap. That's more than I can say for most people.

So the next time you want to sit your angry self down at your computer and really sock it to someone, lay off the Elves, man. They're kind, easy keepers who help people like me and bring a little extra magic and wonderment to kids at Christmas. Yeah... you're right, that's really terrible. So terrible that we adopted another elf this year so that when my kids are grown, both boys could take one of their favorite parts of childhood with them and someday share it with their own families. The kids named him "Junier", as well as choosing the spelling. Shame on us! Down with elves! Down with Christmas! Down with children! Ba Humbug!

Get a grip, people of the Internet. Get off your stupid phones and computers and make some freaking cookies with your kids. Get your head our of your Scroogy behind and sing a flippin' Christmas carol. Stop your sanctimonious judgment and write a note to someone you appreciate. Recognize that hate is born of ignorance, because you clearly have never seen an adorable, innocent child's face light up at the discovery of their own family scout elf. And for the love of elves, stop demonizing other peoples' fun family traditions. Keep the disdain pointed where it belongs... at the clowns, man. At the clowns.