I want to like the Elf on the Shelf, I really do.
I want to applaud the parents who take the magic of the season just one step further or the devious family and friend members who give the "gift" of the Elf on the Shelf. But I just can't help but think that the Elf on the Shelf can be just another reminder of the excess that is the holiday season.
Sure, I could stretch my imagination and see how it could be "fun" to dream up ways to pose that mischievous little toy-maker every night and sure, I could imagine basking in the glow of the likes and comments that are bound to pore in over that oh-so-clever-incident involving one too many chocolate chips and a few Barbies gone bad, but I know that I could simply never pull off the commitment to an Elf on the Shelf.
And while a lot of kids really do get a huge kick out of the Elf and while I am a complete sucker for anything that makes my kids smile, I also struggle, on a daily basis, with balancing doing too much for my kids, simply in the sake of "but they love it!"
My eyeballs burning from reading 800 books at night? Well, just one more, because they love it!
Am I exhausted just thinking about how I will manage to wrap and hide presents for four children this year? Yeah, but they will love it!
Am I going to have to sacrifice some of the kids' college money (no, but for real) simply to pay for the extravagance that the holidays have become? Most likely, but they will love it!
Christmas is hard enough for most parents, with the pressure to create wonderful, magical moments and memories, all while answering the Santa question for ourselves and our children. Therapy-inducing or necessary part of childhood? For me, the Elf on the Shelf has become sort of symbol of a line I have drawn for myself. I may go overboard on presents every year and I may spend more money on my kids' wardrobe than I will ever spend on myself, but I refuse to give into the pressure to brighten my kids' childhood memories with that little green pajama-clad man. Or woman, because even when I'm ranting, let's not forget gender equality.
I simply can't dedicate all of my days to making my children happy or their lives an endless ream of fun snapshots. And I think I'm OK with that. Perhaps I'll feel the occasional twinge of guilt when my daughter bursts through the door talking about their Elf on the Shelf at school (yes, he has infiltrated our classrooms) and wonders why we don't have one, but for the most part, I'd like to focus my time and energy on the moments that I hope our whole family will enjoy over the holiday season.
Plus, let's be honest — I just know I would forget the darn thing one night and blow the whole magic of Christmas charade forever. And then I'd really feel guilty.
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