At my annual “Book Club Holiday Mixer”, the conversation inevitably led to holiday traditions, and once again, I was reminded of my failings as a mother. These women are good friends of mine, but suddenly they were speaking a foreign language about some Elf on a Shelf®. Apparently he takes up residence in their homes after Thanksgiving and these devoted mothers get up every night and move him around the house until Christmas. Of course, I had never heard of this demon who watches over the family by day, then speeds off to the North Pole every night to report to Santa the family’s activities, and whether the kids have been naughty or nice. My paranoia immediately had me believing this was yet another conspiracy to underscore my inadequacy as a parent.
Are Santa and eight flying reindeer mundane and outmoded? Surely they do an adequate job of spreading joy, and generating work for parents at Christmas. Remembering to eat or throw away the cookies left for Santa on Christmas Eve, and getting presents assembled and wrapped, provide plenty of challenges for me each year. Many a late night Christmas Eve has been spent scavenging around the house, after cooking dinner for twelve people, trying to find a piece of stale Halloween candy, a hair tie, a paper clip, anything, to put in the Christmas stockings. I think Christmas is already brimming with magical mystery and intrigue. Do we really need to add one more layer of complexity to an already over-engineered holiday?
In my household I would worry he was counting the number of bottles of wine my husband and I consume every night. Suddenly I imagined this Demon-Elf’s conversations with Santa about me, not my children. “Santa, the house is full of clutter and debris. The mom doesn’t even manage to clean the kitchen after dinner every night. And the laundry is piling up. She grabs a dirty sweatshirt off the floor for her son to wear to school. And by the way Santa, that woman is so cranky every morning. You wouldn’t believe the way she barks at her husband and children.”
And what about privacy concerns? This smirking cloven-hooved troll watches over families, taking notes; maybe he even has a hidden camera. Then he scampers off to the “North Pole” each night to report every intimate detail to “The Fat Man”? This is a flagrant miscarriage of privacy and justice. Has Edward Snowden gotten ahold of this? Hey Ed, if you are reading this, time to blow the whistle on “Project Elf”, yet another of the NSA’s insidious spy rings. Good thing you are safe in the loving arms of the Russian Oligarchy, because there are going to be some really angry moms and Pinterest Pinners who will want to tear you to shreds. Please Ed, get on this – before my kids find out about this Elf on a Shelf® business, and accuse me of not loving them.