The Elf

Amanda Blume

In 2005 a book was published that rocked the parenting world. I'm sure the author had no idea the impact it would have on the global community of breeders when it was published. Bless her marketing people, because they did a world-class job of selling the crap out of it. Now in its 13th year, Carole Aebersold’s The Elf on the Shelf continues to gain ground on those of us with children.

There are three types of people when it comes to the Elf. The parents who love it, there parents who enjoy what others do with it from afar, and the parents who absolutely hate the little bugger.

The handful of parents out there who love their Elf go all out. They have Pinterest boards dedicated to the antics of their little guy. They schedule out what their Elf is doing each day during the holidays. They have a master list of supplies needed to pull off a successful Elf season. They find joy in the excitement the Elf brings to their home.

The parents who enjoy seeing what others do with The Elf usually don't have kids who are of the age where The Elf is part of their life. So, sure, of course it's fun to see what zany ideas others come up with. They are also usually thankful, in my experience, that the Elf was not around when they, or their kids, were little.

In my experience most parents fall in the category of feeling obliged to participate in Elf Madness. Disclaimer: I clearly fall into this group, so please forgive me if I sound biased, because I am. I freaking hate the Elf, for a number of reasons.

First is the message it sends our kids: Big Brother is watching, and going to tattle on you. I teach my kids that I expect them to do the right thing all year round. Just because an Elf is watching doesn't mean they should act any different. I despise the idea of manipulating kids to do the right thing or else Santa will know.

On a more practical level, I loathe the time commitment the Elf requires. You have to commit to moving the damn thing every freaking day. Every parent who has the Elf has experienced a middle of the night panic attack about moving it. I know I am not alone in waking up in the morning, only to have my kids ask “how come the Elf didn't move?” Palm to forehead, then I have to make up some bullshit story about him being sick, or just too tired, and emailing Santa the latest update.

What started out as a whimsical story has turned into a pop culture study in parental pressure to dupe their children. Unfortunately, as much as I want to lose the Elf this holiday season, I'm sure he will make an appearance because my kids now expect it. And of course, as a parent, they have me trained to meet their expectations.