My mom’s group, Urban Baby Denver, had a shopping event a few weeks ago at Kazoo Toys – one of my very favorite toy stores. There seemed to be lots of buzz surrounding this “Elf on the Shelf” kit. The kit includes a book and plush toy elf, the concept being that you read the book a night, then once the kiddo is sleeping, the parents hide the elf somewhere in the house. Then, in the morning, the kid rushes excitedly around the house, looking for the elf’s new hiding place! You do this from Thanksgiving – Christmas. Fun tradition, right?
Well, I got caught up in the buzz, bought the set, and since Kazoo was also doing a book signing with the author, I actually have a signed copy….”Merry Christmas, Raines! Always believe!”
The problem is, now that I’ve actually read it….I hate the book. HATE IT. WITH A PASSION. The whole premise behind the elf is that he is watching to see if you are bad or good, and will report back to Santa on your behavior each night. In other words: he’s Santa’s creepy spy.
And he IS creepy. Hear it straight from the elf about his “job”:
“I tell [Santa] if you have been good or been bag. The news of the day makes him happy or sad. A push or a shove I’ll report to the boss, but small acts of kindness will not be a loss. In the car, at the park, or even at school, the word will get out if you broke a rule.”
(illustration of a girl happily skating on a rink that says “No skating” while parents and kids whisper about her and point).
It’s like Big Brother…for kids. Didn’t this style of parenting go out in the 60’s? The whole “don’t bite the wafer or blood will spurt from your mouth” stuff? Or wait – that’s Catholicism. Same kind of thing. Am I the only one creeped out by this book? And even worse, kids are not supposed to touch the elf because, “my magic might go and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know….(Santa) might start to think you forgot about him.”
Ummmmm….WHAT?? Let me get this straight: You touch the elf. The elf no longer can rat you out to Santa. Santa, when faced with lack of information, simply assumes the worse. Thus…..he doesn’t come on Christmas? Really? This is a kid’s book? So is the moral of this story that if you break one completely arbitrary rule, you get screwed. Or maybe it’s just: Follow the rules, OR ELSE. Or perhaps their real message to kids is DON’T THINK, JUST OBEY. Nice. I love how Santa can get into such a snit if you touch his creepy elf. Whatever. I wouldn’t want to touch that creepy thing anyway.
But I now own this book. And it’s signed, therefore un-returnable. And it cost me $30. How annoying. But with anything, there are a few positives about the book: I like that the elf, simply by coming and going reinforces the whole “magic” of Christmas. I like the thought of waking up every morning to run and find the elf. I like that the elf can be considered a more tangible tie to Santa, and can be seen as a confident for the little ones. The elf even says:
“I’ll listen to you. Tell me your wishes……The gleam in my eye and my bright little smile shows you I’m listening…”
My biggest problem is with the vast majority of the words. However, Mom pointed out that I could make up any story that I want – it’s not like Raines can read. So I did. But, it still bugged me. So I took it a step further. I wrote right over top of the creepy words with my own text. I simply covered up the parts that I didn’t like with white stickers and went to town. Here’s what I did:
“Have you ever wondered how Santa could know if you’re naughty or nice each year as you grow”
Raines’ Book Now Says:
“Have you ever wondered how Santa could know what you want for Christmas each year as you grow”
Then, keep reading, no change. The elf will describe how you need to name him, and that he flys to see Santa every night. THEN….
“I tell him if you have been good or been bag. The news of the day makes him happy or sad. A push or a shove I’ll report to the boss, but small acts of kindness will not be a loss. In the car, at the park, or even at school, the word will get out if you broke a rule.”
Raines’ Book Now Says:
“Santa loves kids at their worst and their best. He wants all kids to be happy and live life with zest! Each kid is special in their own way. Your gift depends on what YOU like to play!”
Again, continue as-is. The elf will go on to describe how to find him each morning, making it a game. So far, so good. But more trouble when you hit the page that states:
“There’s only one rule that you have to follow so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or know. I won’t get to tell hime that you’ve said your prayers, or helped to bake cookies or cleaned off the stairs. How will he know how good you have been? He might start to think you forgot about him.”
This text covers three pages. I simply cut the page that says, “Please do not touch me…” right out of the book. The rest of the text I covered with stickers and added these lines:
“Snowballs and stockings and two turtledoves
The magic of Christmas…
Really comes down to love!
Hold a door, share a smile, bake a sweet treat
Spread the magic of Christmas to all that you meet!”
It’s not perfect, but I was trying to tie in the illustrations that are left. It works ok. The rest of the book remained untouched.
So there. Take that you creepy-creepster tattling elf and your insecure, high-maintenance Santa.
ps. I was SO proud of my new Elf on the Shelf book, but Raines listened to it for all of 10 seconds, then said, “NO!” [slam book closed] “Robot book!” LOL