|image via elfontheshelf.com|
I am debating doing a whimsical Elf on the Shelf re-enactment of Nineteen Eighty Four. What on earth are you talking about, you ask? Let me explain:
Over the last few years The Elf on the Shelf has rapidly become the newest trademarked must have Christmas accessory. How does Santa know if you’ve been naughty or nice? Every year around about the time parents start using Santa-related threats as a behavior management tool, Santa sends (for the low, low price of $29.95) an adorable little elf to
stalk watch each child and report back on their conduct. Each morning the child discovers his or her Elf in a new and delightful locale thus reassuring the child the Elf has reported back to Santa and been instructed to build a new base of operations from which to not at all creepily observe the day’s events.
One day the Elf might show up on the child’s bed side table. Or next to the breakfast cereal. In more enthusiastic homes the Elf might dump out all the goldfish crackers and pretend to go fishing. Or hook a candy cane on a ceiling fan and be the eye in the sky. Or dye your milk green. Or other stuff that’s time consumingly FULL OF WHIMSY. It can be anything from a fun, low key holiday tradition that hones your child’s observation skills to a full on Pinterest Battle of the Overachieving Parents.
Whatever the approach apparently it all works out because children are like, “Oh look! Our little elf has filled the bathroom sink with marshmallows so he could take a bath! It’s so cute and not all invasively dickish that he’s stolen food, set himself up to watch everyone pee, and necessitated that powdered sugar be scraped off of the bathroom sink by my already overworked parents. I bet tomorrow that little rapscallion will deface cherished family portraits with whiteboard marker! Isn’t it fantastic that whether or not I receive dearly hoped for gestures of love and celebration is entirely dependent on the reports of a miniaturized Animal House cast member? I’m not being parented negligently at all.”
Whether Elf on the Shelf is done in a laid back, elaborate, or hilariously inappropriate way, the whole concept reminds me of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. Big Brother is watching you, kid, so don’t even think about failing to toe the Party line or you will be re-educated.
I’m already feeling a bit of “oh, you guys don’t do Elf on the Shelf? Why not?” pressure from hearing other children talk about their Elves so I’m debating getting an Elf on the Shelf this year. If I do I’m tempted to have it re-enact a scene from Nineteen Eighty Four for the next month. It’s a hands on, outside the box way to teach my child about literature and it’s FULL OF WHIMSY.
Only to do it right I couldn’t just get one Elf. I’d have to get like five so they could be constantly watching my kid *and* each other. But I’m not sure that I want to have the “I just spent $150 on Elves” conversation with anyone so the financial aspect is a bit of a deterrent. And there’s no way I’m spending precious hours and creative energy on nightly elaborate Elf arrangements. Plus I don’t know where I could come up with, say, a creepy cage with accompanying miniature rat to put over the Elf’s head. And then probably my kid shouldn’t see most of that stuff…
But it’s not even December and so who knows? Maybe there’s a way around the roadblocks. I think I’m going to re-read Ninety Eighty Four just in case.