It struck me that we had never had the “Elf on the Shelf” when we were kids. Here’s why – the “tradition” comes from a 2005 book written by written and self-published by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. In 2011, an animated television special spread the story even more. This “tradition” is only 10 years old – a little past my “little kid” years.
Here’s how it works: parents hide the little elf doll in different places in the house (usually in plain sight) between Thanksgiving and Christmas so that the elf can gather information for Santa to use in making gift decisions. Some “experts” have denounced the tradition, claiming that it might harm children emotionally if they are concerned that the elf is a “spy” or feel threatened by the elf’s presence. I think that most parents and kids find the elf fun.
For many of us, the elf on the shelf has been the subject of humorous and silly pictures. (I’ll not address those that are inappropriate!) My favorite such picture this year was the elf having a sack race with stuffed animals and cartoon characters. How fun! How cute!!
I’m not sure that when I was young I would have believed that the elf on the shelf had any influence on my Christmas gifts. I have an older brother and sister who could have convinced me that it was the truth or could have told me that the stuffed toy was a sham. Kids believe the funniest things.
I loved the Facebook post from my friend, Hayley Gurney. Here’s what she wrote: “Tonight we’re going to be eating elk burgers and I just pinched off a little piece to let Hoyt try. He said, ‘yum that’s good, but I do feel bad we’re eating an elf.’” Absolutely hilarious!! I would feel bad eating an elf too. But, if it was the Elf on the Shelf who had ratted me out…well, that’s something different.
The story from Hayley reminded me of the story of my sister and mincemeat pie. A typical mincemeat pie includes apples, raisins, and meat. (No surprise that pumpkin and apple pies are favored over mincemeat during the holidays!!) Anyway, my sister explained to my Mom one year that she didn’t care for any of that kind of pie this year; she just didn’t like the idea of eating mouse meat! In her mind, mincemeat had become mouse meat.
Eating an elf. Your grandma serve you a piece of pie made of mice. Believing that a stuffed doll is going to report on your behavior to Santa.
Worried about having a boring holiday? No problem – Just hang out with some kids – your life will get more interesting in just a little while!!
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? (Psalm 127:3a)