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Here’s What: A Quick Note to Elf on the Shelf Overachievers

Hey, You. Yes you, You Overachieving Elf on the Shelf people. It’s one thing that you’re all over my Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages…jolly-ly hanging him from lighted bunting banners, setting him up with a fishing rod over a toilet filled with goldfish crackers, covering him and your entire kitchen with flour to realistically depict his middle-of-the-night gingerbread cookie making bender. Whatever. I can deal with  you. But your kids are killing me.

Because they’re all telling my kid what their Elf is up to, and now my kid is feeling like he got the crappy Elf that Won’t Leave the Shelf…because, let’s face it, he did. His Elf is just going to sit there on the shelf as he was so named to do. I suggested that our Elf was probably old. Harry responded, “Like from the 80s?” Yes, Harry, like from the 80s.

So yesterday I did go along with it and let him put some Halloween candy next to the Elf…because Claire at his school did this, and why can’t he do this and everyone does?. So alright, we’ve got to get rid of this candy somehow. I even remembered to remove the dumb candy when I somehow remembered to move the Elf. I was feeling quite proud of myself all around. And then, this morning Harry was all, “What? What?! He doesn’t have chocolate on his face?” Because apparently Claire reported that not only did the Elf have chocolate set out for him the night before…he also did some elfin razzmatazz and smeared the chocolate all over his mouth to prove that he ate it. Because of course he did. I said, “Ours is probably just a neat eater.” Harry replied, “But he’s old!” Because obviously, you can no longer eat food without getting it all over your face if you are from the 80s. Duh.

Friends, it’s Day 3. It’s going to be a long month.

So, let’s back up, drop the reindeer-shaped sugar cookies and take a breath. It’s bad enough that we’re now having to do this at all. (And I can’t be alone in this…because I’m pretty all-in, over-the-top when it comes to Holiday rah rah.) But now we’re doing nightly performance art with a felt elf? Really? How did we get here?

A. As if the whole Santa scheme wasn’t enough…and apparently it wasn’t, because now we have this elaborate story about millions of elves that fly to the North Pole every night to report back. It’s complicated and full of holes. Some kid/elf soul matches are chosen by Santa, some are the result of random hook ups at Barnes & Noble. There’s even a backstory Christmas cartoon about this (which Harry watched three times yesterday). It’s basically ridiculous, and it’s now in the Holiday Lexicon of must-have, standard fare, all my friends have elves. Great.

B. There are lots of ridiculous things in the Holiday Lexicon…Rudolph, Frosty, Black Friday…but none of them require us remembering to actively remember something every night. Like we don’t have a million other things to do? Now we have to move the freaking elf and/or set up a clever elfin scene every freaking 24 hours? Really? I’m doing good to remember to brush my teeth and I’ve been doing that semi-regularly for four decades. It’s not right.

C. Our kids are now talking. No, better, they’re comparing notes. They believe this stuff and are reporting to each other their individual Home Elf’s level of performance. This new comparison factor exists. Because obviously our kids need more things to measure one another against, they need new ways to feel competitive and/or inadequate, and we all need more to live up to.

D. All of this is basically negated when I overhear my son today, talking to the Elf, telling him, and I quote, “Elfie, I love you. You’re a really great Elf. You’re my best friend.” The elf is now his best friend. I have it on record, video evidence on my phone. My kid pulled the best friend card. It’s the only thing that’s keeping me going on this whole elfin magic thing, this ray of Christmas hope that only lasts a few Christmases anyway.

So sure, I get it. This whole thing was a brilliant idea. Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell have made a kabillion dollars. Millions of children are enchanted by their magic. Childhood is fleeting. Etc. Etc. But I don’t think anyone realized the larger reality shift this would make to the daily lives of the parents. Especially when You Other Parents are bodyslamming yourselves to be the Steven Spielberg of your own goofy set creations. I get that all your “taking it to the next level” is just holly jolly creativity, in theory. A for effort. But what you do affects the whole, the ideas are out of control, and the execution is killing us.

Also, please don’t get any ideas about that execution thing. That’s not an idea. I’m sure you could make a totally cute Elf courtroom drama/electric chair scene, but stop. Really. Stop.

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