American parents are turning away from a ‘creepy’ and ‘disturbing’ Christmas tradition
Many parents tell their children the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ doll monitors their behavior and reports it to Santa in the weeks before Christmas
By Mark Matousek
What began as an innocent attempt to start a new holiday tradition is starting to drive people crazy. It’s called the Elf on the Shelf, and for some parents, it’s causing more headaches than it’s worth.
Inspired by a 2005 children’s book and sold with the book for US$30, Elf on the Shelf is part Christmas decoration, part babysitter. Many parents tell their children that the doll is observing them in the weeks before Christmas, reporting to Santa whether or not they’ve behaved well enough to receive gifts.
The problems are obvious, namely, telling a child he or she is being watched by an inanimate object throughout the day.
“I think it’s creepy that parents set it up to monitor their kids. I think it’s just another thing mothers are expected to do every day in December. I just can’t do it. I don’t have time for that,” Portland, Maine resident Kate Brogan told the Bangor Daily News.
Parents are encouraged to move the doll to a different location in their home each night to make it appear as if the doll has flown to the North Pole and returned by morning. Some have used this activity as an opportunity to stage a social media competition, battling with other parents to photograph the most creative scenarios for their Elf on the Shelf.
Many parents say they find the maintenance exhausting.
“At first, it’s fun, but after a week, you’re just tired of it. It’s one more thing you have to do for the holidays,” New Hampshire resident Kelly Blackadar said to the Daily News. “Not to mention the competitive stuff between parents. You see someone’s amazing thing they did on Facebook, and it’s like a ‘Who’s the best parent?’ competition. Not cool.”
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