Me, Mommy

Why There’s Not an Elf on My Shelf

Are you sitting down? This confession is pretty big: We don’t have a Christmas elf that visits our house.


Go ahead, call me a Grinch, a Scrooge, a party pooper. Get it over with, I’ll wait. Are you done? Ok, good. I’ll explain my reasons now.

First, I know there are moms on both sides of the elf spectrum. Elf-less Grinch moms like myself and elf-or-die moms currently sprinkling glitter and carefully fixing up an adorable, creative and elaborate elf scene with candy canes and sprinkles. If you’re not familiar with anything I’m referring to, please take a few minutes to crawl out from your rock and research it.

Are you back? Hopefully we’re all on the same page now.

I’ve got kids. So far I’ve used the, “they’re too young” excuse, but that won’t work anymore. I never really thought about the reasons why I didn’t want one, I just knew I didn’t. Today I thought about it briefly and here’s what I came up with.

1. Time.
Most of the year things typically move at a medium speed. Each day is a balance that can be managed without too much overwhelming stress. Then comes November 1. I blame the ridiculous amounts of sugar consumed the night before, but either way we seem to enter straight into must do all things Christmas immediately on this day.

Schedules fill up with parties and cookie making and present buying and visiting Santa and wrapping and more parties and dinners and family celebrations and more parties…. it’s just a lot.

During this time I often wear two different shoes or forget to put on socks (at least I’m not forgetting underwear.) I have to make lists for my lists and then forget where I put them. My mind can’t keep up with it all. There’s just not enough time each day. Adding an elf that I must remember to move every night…well, let’s just say my elf would remain in a marshmallow induced sleep for days and my children would forever be traumatized by their disappointing elf.

2. It’s another distraction.
Yes, it’s cute. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, it may create lasting memories. You know what? I already work overtime to create lasting, fun memories. We visit Santa, we make crafts, we look at light displays, we read books, we make cookies and ginger bread houses, and watch fun movies with popcorn and hot chocolate. We have lots of fun! I make cute snowman pancakes for the love of peep! (That’s how my kids say it.) They’re so cute they even request them in July! We’re good in that department.


We also discuss and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Christ’s birth. All the other “stuff” is already a big distraction from that. While they’re so young we try hard to incorporate both, but adding yet another thing just seems unnecessary. No, I’m not saying anything negative about elf loving families here. I think it’s one of those individual family decisions. Ours just happens to be not to include it.

3. They leave.
Two years ago, my child got a Rudolph stuffed animal that played music. When it was time for Rudolph to voyage up the rickety stairs to the attic after Christmas, he cried. Not just that day, but for weeks we grieved over Rudolph in the attic. I can’t even imagine the heartache if he had to return all the way to the North Pole.

My child would be trying to buy a plane ticket to go visit his elf. I’m not even kidding. Why put him through all that? Yes, he’s older now but it’s still a forced loss of a beloved little friend after an already overwhelming, packed month. Could a lesson be learned here? Probably. Am I willing to to through all that to teach it each Christmas? Not really.

4. The rules.
I’m all about rules. They help with safety, reduce chaos and keep everyone in check. I don’t even know all the elf rules, but I’ve heard plenty of major meltdown stories over someone touching the elf and then it supposedly loses its magic. Have I mentioned how forgetful I am around this time of year? I could easily picture myself going into a cleaning frenzy and moving our elf friend to dust under it. Then…cue the screams and tears? No thanks. Also, knowing my children, I could easily picture either of them touching the elf just to create hysterical screams from the other. I’ll never understand why that’s so funny.

I get enough tough questions about Santa and reindeer to make my brain hurt. Adding elf questions to the mix is like asking your boss to pile on more annoying paperwork for fun. Who would do that? Nobody, that’s who.

Speaking of mind-numbing questions, does each kid get an elf? Do they move at the same time? Does each get their own daily scene or are they mutually mischievous friends? Do the kids really love this or is it mostly for the parents? Will not having an elf actually damage my child for life? (Sorry, I had to snort laugh over that last one.) So many questions.

5. The creeps.
Ok, I’m just going to be honest. While I think it’s a cute concept for a book, actually putting the elf character inside the house having little hot chocolate parties and being mischievous late at night just creeps me out. Knowing he’s watching everything and then reporting bad behavior back to Santa is so not cool. How will I ever sneak pieces of chocolate in the kitchen with super elf spy on the loose? Why does he get to stay up all night eating cookies and marshmallows? It’s just not fair. Am I alone here?


I also struggle with letting a little elf scare my kids into good behavior. Maybe if I had one I’d think differently, but it just seems strange. I’m picturing myself as a child. I didn’t sleep for days thinking a man was going to come put sand in my eyes if I went to sleep. I can’t imagine the insomnia if I knew my elf was rummaging through the house at night and spying on me while I slept.

These are just a few unorganized thoughts on the subject. Maybe someone will agree, or maybe you’re still calling me a Grinch.

Now that I’ve got all this out, I should mention my kid has now been exposed to the elf world through friends and wants one to come to this house too.

Maybe I’ll be an elf mom after all. Great.

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4 thoughts on “Why There’s Not an Elf on My Shelf”

  1. My kids grew up without the elf; they behaved because it was expected of them. I can’t imagine trying to do all the elf things, ugh!!! Your kids will be fine. Loved the column.


  2. So I am not the only person who finds elves creepy? Always scared me as a child! The whole Santa knows if I am naughty or nice kind of freaked me out too. When my son was small I downplayed all that “you’re being essentially spied on by creepy agents of Santa a.k.a elves.” I struggled with what to do with the Santa Claus/Jesus’s birth events. My son is a well-adjusted adult now so I guess I did okay. I still don’t feel comfortable with elves, Santa and how Jesus’s birth got all mix up together. Life certainly is interesting with more questions than answers, I guess.


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