The Elf Conundrum

Parents reactions to the new phenomenon of a Christmas elf have ranged from love to hatred to obsession to being creeped out. The elf has been made of symbol of the current culture in parenting to go overboard on everything. The social media sites of dramatic and elaborate elf antics make some parents feel inadequate.

I first heard about Elf on the Shelf in 2009, and didn’t really understand what it was about, and as my boys were just babies and my husband was deployed, I did not think much about it. In 2010, I was determined to give my family the best Christmas ever and looked into the Elf on the Shelf, but immediately knew my sensitive 3 year old would be VERY upset about an elf reporting all his actions to Santa. My boys have autism and anxiety is caused by things most children do not think twice about. Science Kid is 6 years old and still cannot handle the following movies: Cars, Toy Story, and the 1 hour Jake and the Neverland Pirates episode where Bucky is stolen. In 2011, I found Christopher Popinkins (not a referral link, just for the curious folk) who visits from the North Pole and likes to play hide and seek. My boys are very visual, as are most children with autism, and I thought our elf, Christopher, might help them understand the holidays a bit better.

We introduced Christopher during the Holiday Season in 2011 and my boys were immediately enthralled with him. Our Christopher likes to hide in high places and Word Boy loves running around the house trying to find him. My husband who was initially resistant to the idea loves helping me with Christopher, and I would venture to say my husband has more fun playing Christopher than Santa. Science Kid is a very literal child and Christopher helps him grasp the idea of Santa.

I have friends that take laid back approaches to their elf. Some have an Elf on the Shelf that rarely moves. Some have an Elf on the Shelf but make up their own story. Some have homemade elves or other stuffed animals that hide. Some of my friends enjoy doing a big Elf set-up every day. I enjoy seeing their photos and I feel the magic of Christmas through their elaborate ideas. Our elf, Christopher, seems to mostly play hide and seek, although he has been known to deliver tickets for a holiday activity we will do the next day. He brings our advent calendar on the day he arrives and gifts from St. Nicholas on December 6th. He seems to like doing something naughty once or twice during his visit. He is last seen on December 23rd and the boys awake to one present from Santa delivered by Christopher on Christmas Eve.

Do you dislike the tradition of elf on a shelf or love it? What kind of things does your elf do?


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