Santa’s Elves

I think we baby boomers have a way of reinventing the joy and purity of our youth. We remember that we were able to walk to and from school each day, but forget that we would likely have preferred a ride, especially when it was 25 degrees or snow was falling. We think nostalgically about the rotary telephones, but forget that it was hard to get ahold of anybody or to get access to your family telephone, especially if you had two sisters as I do. And though card catalogs worked fine at the library, isn’t it so much easier to use a computer?

Having said that, I’m convinced that our Christmases were less stressful in 1960 than they are in 2015. Of course, I may be convinced of this because in 1960 I was 7 years old. My mother might have a different take on the whole thing.

Nevertheless, I know we got fewer gifts than our grandkids, so shopping wasn’t as chaotic. There were usually no visits to Santa Claus, at least not in Columbus, Nebraska (perhaps Columbus was the original town that Santa forgot). There were no Christmas family photos to take because Christmas cards featured the nativity scene or the Angel Gabriel, not photos. Other families probably baked Christmas cookies, but our mom didn’t. She simply brought yummy things home from Gloor’s Bakery.

I’m not actually criticizing the activities of Christmas in 2015. I like getting the photo cards and enjoy the pictures of the grandkids on Santa’s lap. I just notice that everyone seems so, well, stressed. I think there is just too much emphasis on creating the perfect Christmas. We all forget that the only perfect Christmas was some 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

113806-111676And just when it seemed that Christmas couldn’t possibly get any more stressful, someone – certainly a marketing GENIUS – came up with the idea of the Elf on the Shelf. One more thing to add to the already frenetic busyness of the holiday season, at $29.95 a pop.

For those of you who have no small kids or grandkids, or perhaps live on Mars, the Elf on a Shelf (which actually has its own Wikipedia page) was born out of a book written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. A parents (or someone) reads the book to the kids somewhere around Thanksgiving. Then an elf (in the form of a plush toy) comes to the children’s house where it lives until Christmas. Each night the elf flies home to the North Pole to fill Santa Claus in on the kids’ behaviors, returning later that same night and moving to a new location in the house. In our day, we called such a person a tattle tale. Now it’s Christmas fun.

As far as I know, the elf doesn’t bring gifts, at least not yet. Certainly that is a probability for the future. But it is incumbent upon the parents to remember to move the flipping elf every night. And if they forget, they’ve got som e ‘splainin’ to do. I know. It happened to Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole. And Kaiya’s just on the edge of believing the whole magical Christmas stuff anyway. She grilled her mom and dad about their elf’s lack of movement that particular night. If waterboarding wasn’t so anti-Christmas, Kaiya would have used that method to ensure she got the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth from her parents about the elf’s immobility.

As far as I know, the Elf on the Shelf is no more successful at getting children to behave than the notion that Santa Claus is coming to town. While we all probably recall hearing threats about getting coal in our stocking, the only person I know who

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas

actually got coal in his stocking one year was my dad. Those Swiss immigrants don’t mess around.

Perhaps if the Elf on the Shelf had been around in the 1980s, I would have fallen into the trap. As it was, St. Nicholas visited Court each year on December 6 by ringing the doorbell and leaving a small gift to remind us where the notion of Santa Claus began. As far as I know, however, he didn’t run back to the North Pole and tattle.

This post linked to the GRAND Social.