All over the internets these days I see that little elf. I want to love the elf. I really do! While, let's all be honest, he's not very cute -it does seem like a lot of good fun. I think I'd rather enjoy moving him around, putting him in creative little situations, and watching my kid(s) go hunting for him every morning. I think it could be fun.
Aside from the fact that I'd be beginning something I'd have to be committed to for the next several years, and that there are nearly too many things on my "Holiday Traditions I Want to Continue" list as it is, there's this: I disagree with the purpose of the elf.
I disagree with the whole idea of, "Be good because Santa is watching!" "Be good or else you'll end up on the naughty list!" "If you're not good, Santa won't bring you any presents!" I can see all the parental advantages here. I do. I was always extra good in December for the fear of getting coal in my stocking. I believe my brothers were too. This likely contributed to a greater feeling of love and harmony in the home during Christmas time since we were less likely to fight, but it was still motivated by fear -not the Christmas spirit. Isn't the whole reason of Christmas to celebrate the Love that did not discriminate? The grace freely given to ALL, saint and sinner alike?
I'd rather be working on: Let's be good because Jesus is watching, and Jesus wants us to be good because He loves us, and wants us to be happy! But if we mess up, if we do something naughty -that's okay because Jesus loves us always, and we can say we're sorry, and we can try to be better next time.
And what about this scenario I read about recently: A blogger wrote how her son has asked Santa for one thing this year, just one. The item is like $400, and beyond their budget, but her son's friend and neighbor received one from Santa last year. When Christmas morning arrives, and $400 present isn't under that little boy's tree, what is the logical and natural conclusion that little boy is going to come to? I wasn't good enough? I didn't deserve it? I'm not as worthy as my friend?
Which brings me to my next thing: Letters to Santa.
Every year at some point early in the Christmas season my mom would call me and my brothers to the table, lay out Christmas stationary, hand us pencils and tell us to make our lists for Santa. I wish I could see some of those lists today. I think they'd be hilarious to read. I know they were long. I think it's pretty natural for children to have serious cases of "the give-me-s" especially when a magical being with a workshop full of elves and toys is involved. But this is a tradition I've been rethinking lately.
It started on Thanksgiving when we were discussing the whole entitlement issue. I spent a decade of my life working closely with children and teens and their families and I can attest to the very REAL problem this is to our society, and to people individually. Entitlement erases gratitude, and without gratitude happiness cannot exist.
I feel like a list to Santa sets up an expectation. I'd rather my kids put their expectations on me. That way if their Christmas wish is too big, like a $400 item -or an $600 item as is the current case with my 4-year-old niece- we can discuss money and budgets and "I'm not good enough" doesn't have to factor into the disappointment.
I guess I just want my kids to feel gratitude for whatever it is that Santa thinks they'd like or need, without the "He didn't bring what I wanted," factoring into it. So, the letter writing to Santa in this house, I think, will be coming after Christmas in thank-you letter style.