The real problem with Elf on a Shelf

Hint – it’s not the elf.

It’s Christmas.



Let’s be clear.

There is nothing worse than winter.

It’s cold. It’s full of salt and dirty snow. It’s perpetual chilly nips no matter how many layers you are wearing. It’s heavy boots that still don’t stop your feet from getting wet and frozen boogers in your nose and car windows that are 100 percent clean except right in front of your eyes.

Winter blows.

Its one redeeming quality – when in comes old man winter, so follows Christmas.

Jim is not exactly into, like, God. He thinks it’s adorable that people think a baby was born in a stable surrounded by farm animals and none of them ate him and he didn’t get dysentery. He loves his pagan tree. He calls a nativity a “shrine” (is it? I don’t know!).

But you know what he really loves?



Oh my lord, how he LOVES THIS ALBUM. All he wants for Christmas is you, Mariah. It’s all he wants.

When you talk about Jesus being the reason for the season, you are not talking about people like Jim. He’s not rude about it, I don’t mean it like that. He just isn’t much for organized religion.

But what he does love – what I do love – is some capitalism Christmas. The kind that tells you that Santa Claus drinking a Coca Cola while hanging out with a Polar Bear in line for the Black Friday sale at Walmart is the reason for the season!

Which means in this house, Christmas is about magic.

Enter Steve.


Steve is our Elf on a Shelf. He arrived one year IN SHELVES. No really.

George had started to ask about the elf, some of his friends had one. So we went to Target (like good suburban parents) and picked up one of the 49739591357893493 dolls on display, and brought it home. That same day, the shelves that we ordered for the family room arrived. So Jim pulled the box opening back a little and shoved in the yet-unnamed Steve, and when he opened up the shelves – boom – out popped the elf.

It was adorable.

If you don’t think it was adorable, you are an asshole have a heart of stone.

George quickly named him Steve, clearly after his favorite Minecrafter. Steve.

Then he went to work moving about from place to place, until Christmas morning.

This is our third year with Steve, and it’s possible it’s the last year that this trick will work like magic. The child is 9 years old, I don’t know how much longer until he’s ready to tell us that he knows.

But for now, it’s just more Christmas magic, and it’s as much fun for Jim as it is for George.


Steve will fight you if you take his candy.


Steve loves to play Minecraft with his friends, Frog and Lucky Banana.


There was that time that he did MTV Unplugged. Beautiful.

It wasn’t until I had an elf that I knew that elf-hate is a real thing. And now that it’s December, it’s plastered all over the internet.

A blogger on the Huffington Post proudly slapped out “8 Simple Ways to Exile the Elf” where she explains how you can use the elf to scare the shit out of your kids, ha ha! So hilarious, then they won’t like it. She ends the post with “you’re welcome.”

Another contributor writes about how we’re LYING to our children, when her daughter realizes the doll is a doll.

“Made in China?” A. asks dubiously. She fingers a white tag on Shelf Elf’s rump. “I thought he was from the North Pole.”

First of all lady. For real? She fingers his rump? What are you, 50 Shades of Elf?

I don’t know why you let your kid finger a doll, but ahem:


There ain’t no tag on his ass. Unless you bought yours at the “here are some dolls for asshole parents” store. And let’s not forget the obvious – SANTA. If you’ll lie about Santa, the elf is RIGHT THERE WITH THAT LIE.

Of course we lie to our kids.

“I totally want to hear about that video game.”

“Your hair looks great!”

“Sure, that matches.”

“That picture is really good! You could be an artist!”

“We’ll see…”

All lies.

(Especially that last one, everyone knows that “we’ll see” is fancy talk for “no way in hell.”)

Then there’s this year’s top idea, floating around the facepage like a real life internet piece of downright genius:


Hey kids. I’m here, but I’m not going to move around. Because I have a potentially deadly disease.

I just have one question to the parents who bitch and moan every year over the elf on a shelf:

Why are you assholes?

No really.

It’s not a competition. It’s not mandatory.

Every year, without fail, the whining, the moaning, the CRYING.

“Who has time to do that??”

Well, I don’t know, other people manage to binge watch TV shows and stand in line at Starbucks every day, somehow moving a doll is a commitment as time consuming as getting your PhD?

“Why would you use a doll to make sure your kids are good??”

I use discipline to make sure my kids are good. I use a doll to play a game.

“It’s creepy!”

No more creepy than a guy who rose from the dead after three days and started talking. You know… the reason for the season.

“That must be for stay at home moms!”

Yeah, we aren’t even going to go there…

Look, I get it. You don’t like the doll.

So don’t do it.

And don’t complain that you HAVE to do it because your kids are asking about the elves of their friends. You don’t have to do shit. Tell them the same thing you would tell them if the neighbor got a toy they couldn’t have, or went on a trip you can’t afford, or has things you just don’t have. Tell them – wait for it – NO.

Why is this suddenly too hard when it comes to the elf?

If you really think that the elf pictures on another person’s social media account make you look bad, you have a serious problem with narcissism. You are literally making the family fun of other people somehow about you. Dude. Put down the mirror, there are other people in the world.

Enough blog posts about how to rid yourself of the elf. Look, moms of the suburbs, if you can remember to pour yourself a glass of wine every night, you can remember to move a doll. It’s not about forgetting it, or not being creative.

It’s about that fact that you don’t wanna.

You don’t have to. It’s all good.

But no one is harassing you. Stop being so bound and determined to wag your finger at the elf.

The problem with the elf on a shelf isn’t the other parents who enjoy it every year, or the other kids who talk about it.

It’s you. You and your crappy attitude and incessant need to complain about something that you choose to do or can choose not to do.

It’s just you.


Because this kid’s happiness is not there for you to shit on.

Merry Christmas!!

1 Comment

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One response to “The real problem with Elf on a Shelf

  1. Well said! I’m goig as far as posting a daily photo of what our elves are up to every morning. Take that elf haters 🙂 I love this post because you are so right. These elves are in he spirit of Christmas just like all the stuff we buy.

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