I’ll just admit it. The Elf on the Shelf creeps me out. I mean, something that watches every move I make, reports back to Santa, and can run around my house at night? No, thank you.
Jenny, the fabulous Bloggess, expressed distaste for said elf more aptly and colorfully than i ever could. But don’t go see her if you find my language to be occasionally borderline or offensive. Let’s just say, she does not use %*$&#@ symbols. She’s not a preacher. She can say what she means. But language aside, she and I share reservations about the elf and its ick-factors.
Thing is, my kids love it. So, like many of you, I take the little bugger down from one clever locale each night, and go about finding yet another creative and whimsical place for our elf to hide out for the next morning. Last night, as a matter of fact, I dropped a cast-iron wall sconce on my toe, trying to get the #*^& elf into a creative and whimsical position. It hurt like you-know-what, and woke up one of the kids to boot.
And yet–when the kids wake up (in the morning, that is–not in the middle of the night while that %^*@ elf is banging around the house) the joy of watching them search for “Rachel” almost makes up for the shivers that I get every time I see those big, plastic eyes staring at me. Their excitement upon finding her each morning even makes up for my banged-up toe and my slightly warped wall sconce.
Part of being a parent is doing stuff that we don’t want to do, don’t enjoy, and don’t see the point of, right? And often we find that, when we are doing it for our kids, something that usually seems like a chore (or just flat-out strange) turns out to be more of a blessing than we’d imagine.
So it is with many things during this season of Advent. While I usually hate shopping, it takes on an element of meaning when we are buying gifts for our loved ones, or for a family in need. Getting through the dreadful traffic is not such a hassle when we are headed to see friends, or to enjoy a special holiday show, or maybe even to visit Santa! (Dear Santa—pay no attention to the elf if she tells you what words i used when i dropped that thing on my foot. She’s making it up, I swear.).
In this season of preparation and much doing, let’s pause and remember that 1) what we do is not nearly as important as for whom we do it. And 2) we don’t have to do so much! We can all find things to eliminate from the calendar and the shopping list, so that we can move through the season with a slow joy and a sense of meaning.
That said, I suppose the accursed elf is teaching my children about expectation, mindfulness, and the joy of surprise. And i suppose it is teaching me to enjoy that which brings pleasure to others, even if it’s not my thing. In other words–it is preparing a place in our midst for the one who is coming; the one who will surpass all of our expectations, and ask us to put ourselves aside and follow.