Elf on the Shelf craze

By Renata Terrazzan

The countdown to the final days of 2016 has just begun which not only means that Christmas decorations are lighting up the neighborhood streets and the mall is filled with frantic Michiganders holiday shopping, but also that a certain blue-eyed boy is on the move in the homes of many families: Elf on the Shelf.

Elf on the Shelf is a fairly new tradition to those who celebrate Christmas. It is based on a children’s book published in 2004 by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell with illustrations by Coe Steinwart. The book is a rhyming story about elves who visit children before Christmas, so then can report back to Santa Claus who is naughty and who is nice. Each book comes with its very own “Elf on the Shelf,” so that each family will have their own Elf.

It has now become so common that many children from this new generation are speaking of this as commonly as writing to Santa Claus. But unlike writing to Santa, this little elf has sparked heated discussions among the parental community, especially on social media and blogs.

There is a variety of blogs like: peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com, thatdadblog.com, the elfontheshelf.com, and many others that offer serious opinions on this issue. Some include arguments on the usefulness of the Elf and along with what to do with him. Some parents merely move the elf from bookshelf to couch to window sill and back again, but others give the elf a “naughty” personality, making them destroy the living room pillows or use up all the whipping cream. For some adults, this kind of “naughty behavior” has set in motion heated arguments about how pointless it is to make a mess, just to clean it up again hours later, and how it is teaching kids that it is okay to make messes.

But regardless of what the Elf does, it is more important to see what the Elf makes the kid do. Regardless of how the parents portray the Elf’s personality, all families who use the Elf agree that he makes their kids behave extra nice during the holiday season. But a point that could be argued is that if this is just teaching kids to pretend to be responsible because they will get something out of it. Yet technically speaking, that is the exact same as Santa Claus, is it right to make children just behave nicely not because they want to be nice and respectful, but because they want to get yet another electronic?

But regardless, Elf on the Shelf is harmless. Regardless of how he educates children,  what is wrong with adding another tradition? This day and age kids are increasingly asking for phones and Snapchat instead of board games from Santa Claus, so if this is another tradition that can keeps kids younger for just a little while longer, what’s wrong with that?