Sunday, December 17, 2017

No Elves on these Shelves

Our family became aware of the elf when my daughter was in grade school. I was still working as a substitute special education paraprofessional at the time. A handful of teachers had elves on their shelves and it was a hot topic of discussion among the student body.

I was immediately opposed to the idea. Christmas is the very most special time of the year. It’s specialness directly correlates to crazy busyness. Every day in December already has a full slate of wonderment. There’s just no need for another character.

Julia mentioned the phenomenon of these North Pole visitors to me one Christmas. First, I told her I didn’t know why we didn’t have one. Then, overcome with a sudden burst of whimsy, I told her I was pretty sure the elves show up for bad kids. Bad kids, I reasoned, needed more supervision than Santa alone could provide.

She was satisfied with that until fifth grade. It was then her best fifth-grade friend went on a strange get-Julia-an-elf campaign. The girl’s mom texted me a picture of a heartfelt note that said something to the effect of “...Dear Santa, please send my friend Julia an elf. I just LOVE my elf Jinglehopper so much and I want Julia to have a nice Christmas.”

Wow. When the kids weren't around, I explained to the other mom that the elf wasn't going to happen for us. She understood but explained that her kids believed and she was going to keep up the elf for as long as possible.

Since I was sure the whole Christmas deal was about to get more grown-up (if you know what I’m saying), I held firm in my anti-elf convictions. Elves make messes, I told Julia. And you know I don’t like messes. Did you hear about the elf putting sharpie marker mustaches on every member of Evan F’s family while they slept? That’s not happening.

Julia was satisfied, but the friend needed additional assurances. I texted the mom this picture:

In 2015, I had to enlist the help of this guard moose to keep our shelves elf-free.

We weathered the elf-based storm that year remaining elf-free and $30 richer. Before Julia started sixth grade, I dropped some holiday truth bombs. My daughter points to this as the single worst thing I’ve ever done to her.

So, you see, not having an elf is not the worst thing you can do to a child. The worst thing you can do is attempt to save a middle school kid from embarrassment. Or "forever ruin Christmas" as Julia calls it.

Can I blame it on the elf?