December First (AKA: That Creepy Fucking Elf)

Today’s Huffington Parents’ Blog post totally describes my family. Kathryn is freaked (the fuck) out by this little dude. And even though we never did the “Chauncey reports back to Santa” bit, even my little Susan (who loves everyone) was freaked out by this random creature in her home “watching” her. (No, seriously. This child anthropormorphizes everything on this planet….even leaves. And by that I mean every leaf. Every. Single. Leaf.) So the fact that this elf was acutely, astutely watching her. (I mean, if he’s not playing with me, what else could he possibly be doing….Mama? MAMA?) And then she (repeatedly) verbalizes: “Why is this elf in our house on the bookshelf? That’s not his SEEEEEEEEEAT” said my pragmatic, intelligent, impatient Susan….

Maybe if I had actually done the entire “return demonstration behavior” thing with Chauncey (you know – he’s Santa’s ‘helper’: every day he goes back and tells Santa if you’ve been bad or good, if you touch him he looses his magic, etc.) Maybe if we’d done that with him (why is this elf always a male, by the way?) it might have made more sense to my daughter(s).

(However, that entire concept is never going to work for our family. We, personally {and honestly, no judgments to any other parents who choose to do what they believe in and works for their family} don’t do the whole “Santa brings gifts only if you’re good” thing. I’m sorry, maybe I’m an annoying “stupid liberal” hippy, but we don’t really find that scaring my kids into being good because some magic being who can fly through the sky one night a year might have the gifts you (really, really, really)  want in his magic sky-vehicle. One of the primary reasons that I can’t follow through with this “myth” is because it would become my (ahemcoughonlycoughahem) go-to parenting tool. Starting some time around, ya know, March or so of every year……

In my family, we just have a hard time teaching our children at ages 2 and 5 (and yes, we also had a hard time at the ages of 2 and fetus, and also as teenagers with the older two) that some “mystical being” will provide my children with material rewards for behaving well. And let’s be honest here, Santa is a “myth” even though I believe in the Spirit of Santa whole-fucking-heartedly. 

I just want them to love others and be full of joy and be kind this time of year, with the hope that the spirit of Santa and Christmas will trickle down to their thoughts and actions and feelings (especially towards others) throughout the entire year. And yes, I do fucking get that we all get paychecks (AKA: ‘material rewards’) for work (and our behavior there and whatnot determines if we get to continue to reap that monetary compensation….yaddah yaddah yaddah   **COUGH** shut the fuck up). And yes. I agree. On some level. Christmas isn’t about that, though. It’s not a quid-pro-quo situation where you fulfill “x” and then are rewarded with “y”.

My husband and I also feel as though Christmas is about so much more than just rewards in return for the appropriate behavior. Christmas should be about being a good person who simply has a loving heart…..just because you should. No, even more than that. Not because you ‘should’ but because you CAN. Because you are able to do so. Just because there are other human beings out there whom you would like to spread joy and love with. There are people who could use a hand during the horrible five minutes of their life at this time of year – this time of year that should be celebratory. Just because you could do a good thing – with absolutely no expectation of reward or compensation – you chose to. Those are the kinds of messages that I want to bestow on my children during this time of year. Anyone can reach out to another living, breathing, loving entity who happens to be living simultaneouslyAnd it’s much easier to do it (or teach it) when there are twinkly lights in your periphery, the smell of cinnamon in the air, and the sound of Salvation Army bells ringing in your ear –  it’s easier to teach this lesson at Christmas-time. To enjoy it at Christmas-time. To know it in your cynical adult heart at Christmas-time. And I truly hope that that feeling carries with my children thoughout the year becuase, frankly, you can’t embody that every minute of every day. You have to take advantage of the popcorn stringing and Miracle on 34th Street to warm their hearts and teach them about the magic that is selfless love of other people. So, yes, I (and my husband) absolutely hope to ingrain this in the minds of our very, very, very young children during this magical time of year. We do this in the hope that it will be branded in their (loving) souls forever. (And also because we are suckers for the swelling music of shows like Charlie Brown Christmas and it reminds us how we’ve been falling short up until this point this year….)

Okay, okay, okay. I apologize. I feel I may have digressed, a bit.

Ultimately, I just want my kids to be grateful for and believe in the magic of Christmas — just for the sake of Christmas. I want our elf to be kind of a sort of kindness elf concept ( – and our children to just decide to do good, kind-hearted things just for the sake of doing them.

I am not judging other parents for whom the Elf on the Shelf works. I don’t know what daily struggles you deal with. I also don’t know what lessons you are teaching your children. I certainly don’t know what beliefs you hold in your heart. I certainly don’t mean to insinuate that everything I just typed in the last three (and-a-half) sentences means you are “less-than”.


I’ve lost my point.

This post started about that creepy (to me. And to my daughters…..okay, probably our entire family) Elf on the Shelf and has morphed into a post about how I just want everyone to take this time of year to recognize that we can all love one another and reach out to help those in need….not because we have to or because we  should… but just because that’s truly what our heart of hearts wants to do.

You know…the right thing???

Okay, before all my distracted typing I just wanted to share this post, from one realistic parent living with their realistic children to another.

I mean, it is the Christmas season. (Oh, and my birthday, too in four days!!!!)

PS — Aside from my inane rambling: this is a well-written, awesome, articulate blog post that truly hits home what it’s like to be a Mama that wants to be “that Mama”……but just has to acclimate to the genes she’s been birthed, whether she likes it or not.

Read, and enjoy.

It’s December 1st. Happy X-mas season.



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