Elves on Shelves and Other “Traditions”–or, Why I Can’t Stand Unity Sand

It’s that time of year again: Christmas carols ring through every shop, holiday cards outnumber the bills in my mailbox, and the Hershey’s kisses “handbells” make me giggle every time the last little bell says “Shwew.” A seasonal shift is evident on social media, too, as friends share recipes for crazy-good sounding cookies and post pictures of children sitting on Santa’s lap and little elves sitting on the toilet pooping peppermint candies.

Ah, the “Elf on the Shelf,” icon of the 21st century Christmas. According to Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell’s 2005 children’s book, the diminutive Elf is a scout for St. Nick who hides in various places around the house to watch and report on who’s naughty or nice. The toy, understandably I think, garners equal amounts devotion and derision. For those who have children and can share in their daily delight at discovering what that crazy Elf is up to now, it’s a funny and charming pastime. As a long-time single woman whose home was once broken into by the neighborhood voyeur, I find the idea of an odd little man popping in and out of my house and spying on me…icky. Sinister, even. Besides, don’t we have the NSA for that?

Still, just because their cute is my creepy, I don’t begrudge my friends their joy in elfin antics. And I hope none will begrudge me my confession that the same celebratory ritual that brings others great happiness makes me shiver in revulsion.

I can’t stand unity sand. Continue reading