Why we don’t have an Elf…

bible“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not by your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Elf on a Shelf is one tradition that I am glad that we did not start in our family. I am all for Christmas fun but this tradition is one in which my family will not participate.  According to the author of the book the elves are scouts that come into homes to be the eyes and ears of Santa. The elves then report back to Santa concerning the behavior of children. Many parents use the arrival of the elf to entice and bribe their children to behave. Other parents love to get creative with activities that the elf participated in while the children were sleeping.

My problem with the tradition of the elf and Santa in general is tying gifts to behavior. I mentioned in my “We don’t do Santa” post that I found it very hard to explain to children why some bad kids get gifts, while really good kids get nothing. The receiving of gifts has nothing to do with behavior but has everything to do with family income. I think too many parents rely on Santa and Elves as a crutch for a month of good behavior. I cringe every time I hear a parent tell a kid, “you better behave or Santa will not give you any presents on Christmas.” I want to ask the parent “do you intend to follow through on that threat?” Parents should not rely on the threat of no presents from Santa or the threat of “the Elf will tell Santa” in order to have well behaved children during the holiday season.  Children need to be taught behavior standards and they need to learn that standards are expected year round and not just when Christmas is coming.

In our home we do not receive or have presents withheld based on behavior. We receive presents for no other reason than our love for one another. In our home children are taught to behave everyday because good behavior is expected. I think what we are doing is working. Our son is 18 and we had very few behavioral issues with him while he was growing up. He is actually a great kid and we are proud of the young man he is becoming. Madilyn is 7 and we have few behavioral issues from her. Our kids were taught expectations at a young age and they behave as expected (year round), because they know if they don’t they will face consequences, and those consequences will be imposed by mom and dad not some outsider named Santa.

I believe that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Because of this belief, I believe that equating gifts to behavior is a bad idea. The greatest gift the world has ever seen is Jesus and he came as a gift to the world not just a gift to the well behaved. All we have to do is accept him in to our lives. He is here for all of us not just those who are good. I am so thankful that the gift of my salvation was not withheld due to my behaviors. I was still allowed to accept this wonderful gift when I was ready to accept the gift.

I think that we need to be intentional with our Christmas traditions, so we opt out of some of the popular traditions. People look at us a little funny and think that we are strange, but it does not matter to me. What matters is that we are doing what we feel is best for our children and our family.




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