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Why I Hate the Elf on the Shelf

A mom on why she despises that pesky pixie

Anna Lane

Published on: November 26, 2018

Elf on the shelf

Ah, the holidays. That special time of year when the Elf on the Shelf and the Mensch on the Bench are deployed to keep an eye on small children with the intention of preventing them from performing misdeeds. 

Every year, a few well-intentioned family members send me a Mensch on a Bench or an Elf on the Shelf (we’re Jews who celebrate Christmas. Yeah, my kids are confused too) and every year I put those little stuffed creatures exactly where they belong: in the circular file, aka my garbage. 

Before you race to the bottom of the article to write a vitriolic comment about how I’m a real-life Grinch, at least give me a chance to defend myself.

I have no issue with other people crafting up an elfin fantasyland for their children, but I do take issue with people expecting me to do so as well. 

No amount of family pressure will convince me to invent intricate scenes of my Mensch marrying Barbie under a chuppah made of real flowers, or my Elf having a cotton ball fight with a Transformer. Why would I want to take on yet another task during the busy holiday season; especially one that involves a lot of clean-up.

The truth is that I’m an overwhelmed working mom and the last thing I want to do at 10 p.m. is throw flour all over my kitchen in service to some stalker-ish mystical creature. I want to give my children a magical holiday season filled with wonder, but not at the expense of my sanity. 

Open up Instagram during the month of December and you’re likely to see many a charming tableau of frolicking elves ice skating on a glitter pond, or a cheery mensch savoring a tiny felt bagel with a side of gelt (guilt). I get it, they’re charming and adorable, but I hate these invasive little creatures with every fiber of my being.

I simply can’t get on board with telling my kids that a small, male creature is spying on them.

It’s not just the cleaning up or the social pressure that I find problematic about the Elf/Mensch situation, though. I simply can’t get on board with telling my kids that a small, male creature is spying on them. I’m certainly not lacking for a sense of humor, but a guy in an elf hat watching my daughter shower gives me the creeps. 

The good news is that it’s still possible to keep your kids in line during the holidays without resorting to buying an elf and spending hours on Pinterest. 

I’ve discovered the much easier, working-mom-friendly way to ensure good behavior: a quick call to the Santa hotline (319-527-2680) where a cheery recorded message from the big guy reminds kids that he’s watching them. 

Sure, it’s still marginally troubling to think of a man in a red suit spying on your children, but no messy baking supplies are necessary, and it only takes 30 seconds. Now that’s a holiday tradition I can get behind. 

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