Elf on the Shelf: Creepy or Cute?

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8330255654_5347374874_zBY MELISSA GEIL & JENNIFER FERRIS

An Argument For Elf on the Shelf: Melissa’s Story

I was a hardcore anti-Elf on the Shelfer. Looking down my nose at parents who clearly had too much time on their hands, I would utter the words “Orwellian” and “Panopticon” and say something vague about a return to simpler times. And then a friend changed my mind. A friend and a leprechaun named Lucky.

Lucky, an invention of my daughter’s preschool teacher, arrived one St. Patrick’s day leaving trails of green footprints, green colored milk (and toilet water—gross), and streamers all over her classroom. She wondered what Lucky had in store for her at home.

Oh, great. I had read that article “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical” and was pretty sure that I agreed with it. Lucky hadn’t done squat at my house.

But on the way home from school, she talked about nothing but Lucky. Her excitement filled the space between us with light and happiness. It was real to her. The world was a magical place.

When we got home, I directed her upstairs to look for what Lucky may have left for her, while grabbing some green food coloring, christening the milk and, yes, the toilet water, green. I was short on time and good ideas. I found a leftover cookie and put it on a plate, and scribbled a hasty note: XO Lucky.

That was two years ago. Still a celebrity in our house, Lucky makes appearances on St. Patrick’s day and exists in my daughter’s imagination as a sneaky magical creature year round. All because of green toilet water.

Now, about that pesky Christmas Elf. Do I find The Elf of the Shelf a bit creepy? Yes. Do I see it as some sort of commercial racket? Definitely. Do I think that using it as a way to ensure good behavior from one’s children is a tad Big Brother? Sure, but that’s kind of Santa Claus’s thing already. I mean, at least the Elf goes back to the North Pole at night, while Santa “sees you when you’re sleeping.” Which is creepier?

So when a fellow anti-Elf on the Shelfer finally caved in and got one for her child, I asked her about it. Her answer? The Elf is magic made real. It is the palpable manifestation of wonderment and a belief in things not seen. It is a gesture of love to keep the magic alive for a child and, in that, it must be a good thing.

An Argument Against Elf on the Shelf: Jennifer’s Story

By some accounts, you could call me a Pinterest mom. I make play-dough, bake bread, sew clothes, and like color-coded organizational systems. But all that cutesy pie crap is child’s play compared to the scourge that is Elf on the Shelf.

For 25 days a year, gormless parents pose a ridiculous doll in varying states of mayhem throughout their houses in the hopes of ensuring good holiday behavior from their offspring. Does this sound sane to you? Does this sound like something in which grownups participate?

Look, at this moment I’m wearing a “Hello Kitty” T-shirt and even I am here to tell you that this elf stuff is garbage. And adults who participate in it have been taken for a ride by the Industrial Christmas Complex gone mad.

This isn’t some hallowed ancient family tradition. But if we keep at it, it’ll become one. Someday my grandkids will expect a little snitch knocking over the knick knacks in their living room. And I just can’t stand the thought of that.

There is literally nothing good about the Elf. Melissa up there will tell you it’s about magic. To that I say, BAH HUMBUG. You can take your weird creepy NSA Elf Magic and shove it up your chimney. Christmas is totally magical enough. Presents get delivered in the dark of night! Stockings are filled! Plates full of cookies are left clean! There is no need to add more crap to a holiday that’s already chock-full of excrement.

There’s never been an Elf in my house, and there will never be one. The kids have asked and I just sip my wine and stare off into the distance with an irritated look on my face. That’s all the answer they need. And friends, it’s all the answer your kids need, too.

We all must band together to end the curse of the Elf once and for all. This Christmas, put him in the bin with Aunt Fran’s fruitcake and Grandpa Dave’s creepy “gag gifts.” Then next year when the kids ask, just raise a glass of your favorite tipple, fix your gaze on the horizon and say, “He’s gone now, kids. The Fuzzypants the elf is dead.”




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