The ?#@*&%! Elf on the Shelf and the Tragedy of the Commons*
My name is Chris and I have an Elf on the Shelf, specifically one named "Elfie". I do not like Elfie. I do not want Elfie. But every day between now and Christmas, I will be hiding Elfie in different, amusing locales around our home. Some days, my lovely wife might even be found cooking miniature meals for the creepy little elf. Why? Because my children's friends told them that this elf comes and visits their homes and watches them and reports back whether they are good or not.
What is there to object to? I would like to start with: everything. Based on my preference for liberty and privacy, I don't want some elf narcing on me for Santa. We are up in arms over NSA surveillance and should be similarly up in arms over elven stooges in our own homes. This is quite at one with the words of the holiday lyrics that are at the same time the most vapid and stalkerish,
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake
With all due respect to Santa, his elf, and blissful childhood memories, F that. You want some perfect stranger knowing when you're sleeping and when you're awake? Reflect on how closely he has to be watching and what else he'll be watching while he's at it. Oh, and it isn't for goodness sake. It is - right there in the next stanza - for the sake of receipt of said "little tin horns and little toy drums". This is the reason why you're expected to be nice and not naughty. That is what is on his twice checked list. As per the menacing warning: you better watch out.
For those who celebrate Christmas, this is essentially inconsistent or opposite most everything one can find in the gospel. We are sinners (not perfect, like the elf wants to see). We deserve nothing based on our good works (but receive a gift of salvation). The whole meaning of Christmas is not about greedy little brats whose toylust invariably leads to manipulations from parents who sooner or later break down with wild eyed threats, of "STOP THAT THIS MINUTE OR I'M TELLING THE ELF!" None of Jesus Christ's immediate relatives ever said that in the days leading up to Christmas.
You know the mugs that say, "world's best dad" or "#1 dad"? Statistically, this is a low probability claim. It is reasonably likely that the actual #1 dad in the world does not own that mug. However, we all want to think of ourselves as occupying such a place in the dad hierarchy. As long as we are blissfully ignorant of whatever other better dads are doing, then everything is fine. The problem, raised by this little elf bastard, is that the kids keep reporting back on whatever increasingly clever things their friends' elves have done.
Enough. It is time to stop. Parents need to band together to mutually disarm. There are more children being born every day. If you don't tell them about the elf, then I won't either. Let's end this tradition or as it were, kill the elf in the cradle.
*This will not make any sense if you lack kids under 5. Feel lucky if you don't know about this.