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Is there an Elf on the Shelf

Wednesday, 28 December 2016  | 

 

A colleague turned to me and asked me, as a parent surely, I would know what an Elf on the Shelf was the other day and what the deal with it is. I explained it is a newish Christmas tradition that in recent years have seen parents turn their Elf creations into a slight competition to see who can get the best, most outlandish and funny pranks from their elves. I will be honest those Elves scare me slightly and some do look like they may come to life in the night! I know that sort of is the point, that the elves watch to make sure the kids are being good, and it is just some harmless fun.

 

Call me an old Grinch but is this not another way for parents to try and outdo each other on Instagram and turn into a mass competition against one another. Surely this defeats the point? Is this not another way for parents to be exploited over Christmas? A friend’s child came home to her the other day to ask where her Elf on the Shelf was as all her class mates had one. Cue running into town in a hurry to cobble something together.

 

It seems social media is now packed full of Christmas days out, Santa Visits, kids in matching jumpers, the biggest and best Christmas tree, baking Betty Crocker worthy creations and wrapping hundreds of toys ready for the big day. It is so much, it is too much. It is setting high expectations that parents have to do all of these things or their child is missing out on having the perfect Christmas that we of course want to give our children.

 

I love Christmas, we put our tree up early every year in the last week of November, and Elijah has a multiple Christmas tops and socks. But, this year I am not sure why I am feeling like it has all got a bit out of hand. At times, it doesn’t feel like a celebration of this magical time of year, but more who can outdo who?

 

This year we made a special effort not to go crazy with Christmas presents, so we could focus more on being out and about. Something that will interest Elijah longer than a present he will probably get bored of within 5 minutes!We have been to see the Coca Cola Truck, and will be going on the Santa Express Train but most of all we will be spending Christmas at my Nans’. Something I remember as a child. My Nan and Grandad making the most amazing Christmas dinner, and spending time together. This is what Christmas means to me, and what I want for Elijah too. There was no Elf on the Shelf, no Christmas Jumper day (although Nan’s Jingle My Bells jumper is a repeat visitor on Christmas Day), no disclosure of budgets, black eye Friday and present totals. It was about family and not posting millions of photos on social media to show what an amazing time you are having (at the same time missing said fun by posting pics).

 

 

I have taken a bit of a side step from social media for the last few weeks as I don’t want to compete with what is currently flooding my feed. I have posted a few bits here and there, after all it is the season. But not to rub it in anyone’s face, but rather to show our family and friends who may not see Elijah this Christmas. I keep seeing posts and articles about parents spending hundreds of pounds on presents and then showing them off to the world. That they spent the whole morning doing an amazing Christmas activity on their own, as their kid got bored and wandered off to play after 10 mins. I think moderation is key and maybe we need to remember not everyone will be wanting festivities rammed down their throats.

 

I am thinking of the children who may not receive lots of presents, and their parents beating themselves up because of it. Because of what they are seeing on social media, this is what they are expecting to provide. When they cannot they think, they have failed. When in all truth of the matter Instagram feeds tend to be an unreal reality. The children in war torn countries who do not even know what time of year it is. Or the families who have to spend their big day in hospital.

 

You may read this and think I am a Scrooge I can assure you I am not. I love Christmas as much as the next person and enjoy starting new traditions and memories with Elijah each year. However, this year it just seems to have gotten a tad over the top. A bit out of hand and after all what is the true cost of this?  What will this mean for next year? Are we setting up un real expectations to our children, when we should be teaching them about kindness and generosity at this time of year? Surely this will go a lot further in the world we live in than 200 Christmas presents that will be left to rot on bedroom floors for the next 6 months?