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Are you Part of the 'Elf on the Shelf' Craze?

There are countless ways to display the Elf, as he flies off store shelves this holiday season.

Over the past decade, the “Elf on the Shelf” has become a tradition in many homes. According to online research, the Elf was born in 2005 when a mother and daughter decided to write a book.

After being rejected by numerous publishing houses, the pair decided to self-publish the book – first printing 300 copies. By the end of 2010, more 1.5 million copies of “Elf on the Shelf” had been sold.

The basic premise is that Santa sends his "Elf scouts" to families’ homes. Once the family reads "The Elf on the Shelf” book, it is directed to give the elf doll (which comes with the book) a name and register it on a website to make "the adoption" official.

From then on, the Elf lives with the family and watches the children’s behavior every Christmas season.

But children can’t touch the Elf! If they do, it will lose its magic. And without its magic, it cannot travel to the North Pole to relay its "naughty/nice report" to Santa each night.

This is a cute concept and one that seems to have become very popular among young families. Who doesn’t want another technique to get the kids to behave?

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? Upload your best Elf on the Shelf poses here and share your ideas for fun Elf on the Shelf locations in the comments. If you haven't bought into the $29.95 phenomenon of the Elf, tell us why.

Websites have been established listing “101 Ideas for Your Elf on a Shelf,” and Pinterest is popping with Elf poses, including pillow fights (feathers everywhere), floating around the house on a helium balloon, and being tied up by mini Lego people.

Our family, however, has not caved to the Elf craze. Maybe I’m just lazy and the thought of having to configure said Elf into precarious situations every night doesn’t appeal to me.

Maybe I know I’d feel even guiltier adding another lie to the holiday season (and this year, my 10-year-old is finally aware that Santa doesn’t actually slide down our chimney, so we’ve got him "lying" to our 5-year-old too about Santa too).  

It just doesn’t feel right. In my opinion, it’s one more distraction from the true reason for the season.

Facebook is full of daily "Elf on the Shelf" poses and stories. They’re clever and comical, but after a discussion with my 5-year-old, it was determined that Jesus is always watching, so Elf or no Elf, we should always be on our best behavior.

He suggested we find a Jesus doll to sit on the shelf. I thought that was cute.

We do have an old plastic elf that I inherited from my Nana when she passed. I never looked at it as anything but a special keepsake that rests on a shelf at Christmas.

But every now and then I catch my little guy glancing at it with a touch of concern in his eyes as he wonders if the elf is really watching.

tracystough December 09, 2012 at 11:06 PM
@Jenae-Wow, what a killjoy! You do realize that not only adults read the Patch, don't you? Those of us who actually believe in Santa, also believe in the spirit of the Holiday Season AND Jesus! Maybe you ought to think before you go trashing the beliefs of others, especially the children! With all the bad and negativity in the world, why take away hope from those who find enjoyment in either Santa or an elf on a shelf for that matter! And yes, we do realize that Christmas is about Jesus and will agree to too much commercialism in the celebration. However, in moderation, there is no harm in celebrating both!
Yea okay December 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Our family does not participate in the "Elf on the shelf" craze. I don't feel that you should have to bribe a child with an elf to be good. You should teach them that Jesus is watching all the time. Also, I have seen many friends on my facebook posting pictures of their elf toilet papering christmas trees, dumping candy everywhere, and hanging from ceiling fans just to name a few. Is this the type of behavior you want your chidlren to see? That Santa's elves are bad and that it's funny to engage in these activities???
tracystough December 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I do not participate in the "elf" craze either....However, I still do not feel it is the author's job to trash Santa or the elf for that matter! As I said before, kids can and do read the Patch, and it isn't the author's job to take away their innocence and dreams. As for "Jesus watching them all the time", that goes without saying. And I'm sure Jesus wouldn't mind a little fun and hope for kids! Also regarding the "naughty elves" on facebook, lighten up! As I said , there is so much stress, negativity and saddness in the world, what harm does it do to give some fun(ny) things for kids (and parents) alike to have!
Yea okay December 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I don't think she was trashing any concept. And what do you mean "lighten up"? I'm just simply commenting on what I see.....
tracystough December 10, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Umm, yeah, i believe by her statements regarding "adding another lie to the holiday season" she is trashing santa and the elf. Lighten up means why let what others do with their elves bother you? I figure, live and let live. Hope you have a merry christmas, and that santa brings you all you desire!
Jenae Holtzhafer December 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Hi Tracy! I'm sorry you found this to be so offensive. My goal wasn't to 'trash' the elf or Santa, but to simply discuss the 'elf craze' as it may be. Each year it seems to be increasing. I've seen some pretty funny pictures of my friends staging their elves in precarious positions. I have nothing against people doing that! It's just not for me. Maybe it's my general lack of creativity. ;) I also saw a blog that flying around FB (that was also recently posted on Huffington Post) about this very topic. http://www.peopleiwanttopunchinthethroat.com/2011/12/over-achieving-elf-on-shelf-mommies.htm As I quoted in the column, "This is a cute concept and one that seems to have become very popular among young families. Who doesn’t want another technique to get the kids to behave?" When I shared the link about 'lying,' it simply directs readers to another column I wrote a couple of years ago about my personal feelings about telling my children Santa comes to our house. Remember, this is an opinion column. I genuinely feel a bit guilty lying to them that a man in a red suit shows up at our door. That's just me. I'm not judging others who do it, as clearly, it's a tradition for so many. And yes, we still do it, and yes, I still feel a bit guilty doing it (to some degree), but we welcome Santa just as warmly as the rest. Hope that clarifies things a bit for you! Merry Christmas! :)
Beth December 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
As you will see, it is an "opinion" piece. That's her opinion.
tracystough December 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM
@beth.and my opinion is that it is up to parents to inform their children about santa and the elf, not the patch...my children can read and they do actually read the patch. They do know about Jesus, but fun is fun, wouldnt you agree? No, everyone doesn't need to believe in Santa, but the belief brings happiness to kids.
Al Fundo December 10, 2012 at 10:44 PM
@tracy society as a whole cannot be held accountable for whatever fantasies you wish to tell your children. when i was a child i was much relieved when i found out the truth about Santa and as an adult i felt relief when science and reasoning led my to dismiss the Jesus myth.
tracystough December 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@Al-No, you're right, they can't. However, a local news provider could use a bit more restraint when it comes to such topics. I guess I'll have to join the rest of those who don't read the patch anymore...especially with moronic statements made such as yours. I'd especially keep your opinions regarding Jesus to yourself. You don't have to believe in either of these topics, but you could keep it to yourself. Enough said. Have a Joyous Holiday Season no matter what your actual beliefs (or non-beliefs) you might have!
Al Fundo December 10, 2012 at 11:13 PM
"keep your opinions regarding Jesus to yourself" i will when others do the same. let me ask you tracy, do you believe in unicorns? the news provider has an obligation to....wait....here it comes....provide.....what??? well news of course. not fantasy. A Joyous Solstice to you as well!
tracystough December 10, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Wow al, you must be a really miserable human being! Such a sad life you must have had if you had nothing to fantasize or dream about. And, saying that santa and the elf are lies, is not, ....wait for it NEWS.
Yea okay December 11, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Actually tracy, you must be miserable because that's the second time I've read you say "enough said"...so why do you keep posting? Thaaaaat's right! Because it's YOU that can't let it go! Jenae: I thought your piece was great, and keep up the good work!!! You can't please everyone in life, and unfortunately some people try and shelter their children from the truth about the myths surrounding the holidays, yet allow them to read newspapers??? I wonder if it's okay for them to read about murders, thefts, etc. that gets reported on!!! Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful that children are interested in news, but don't get all bitter when they read about information that you don't want them to!
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:09 AM
John, It has been definitively proven that Jesus existed through over 5,000 historical texts and ancient census counts that were studied by scholars. Look up C.S. Lewis, Josh MacDowell and Simon Greenleaf, each of whom doubted his existence and were shocked to learn there was historical proof outside of the bible. Whether he was the son of God is the real question. I believe he was, but everyone has a right to their own opinion. You're also mistaken about the origins of Christmas Day, it had nothing to do with Saturnalia. The idea of gift giving was borrowed from Saturnalia, but that is about it. When Christianity was founded, no specific date was given for the birth of Jesus. The best they could do is count 9 months forward from when they believed Mary became pregnant and different dates were believed- May 20, April 18 or 19, March 25, January 2, November 17 or 20. The consensus was the it was likely around January 6th and that was the date that was first picked. but, it was later moved to December 25th around 300 AD, to match up with the Southern Solstice. The notion that it was done to coincide with pagan festivals or that there was some conspiracy didn't come about until the 1700s, when people began to question doctrine and try to make names for themselves by challenging historical accounts. By the way, shepherds DID watch flocks in the winter time (Genesis 31:38–40). Shepherds of Migdal Eder watch flocks of sheep year-round.
Al Fundo December 11, 2012 at 12:20 AM
i dont think im the one displaying traits of being miserable here, tracy. you are the one who resorts to name calling when things dont go your way. i have a lot to fantasize about but i also have the ability to separate my fantasies from reality. no matter how you slice it, lying to your kids is lying to your kids, something im not comfortable with regardless of the sugarcoating.
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:20 AM
All that said, I agree with many others who say this column was inappropriate. It's not up to you or me to dictate what is acceptable for others or to demean their beliefs. I am a Christian and I believe in Santa and the spirit of Christmas. Perhaps you should read the original text of 'Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus' sometime. The ORIGINAL text, not the edited or smaltzy version. You may believe too... To those who still argue the day, I'd say Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ. Have you never had a birthday party a week or two after or before your birthday to accommodate different schedules? As far as "lying" to your children, I found that statement to be extremely condescending and elitist. You have your beliefs and I have mine. Atheists have theirs and it is none of our right to chastise or mock others for a differing belief. You owe your reading audience here an apology.
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I agree, Tracy. We're far too critical of each other in this day and age. In what is the holiest of seasons for Christians, next to Lent and Easter, a great deal of Christians are not exactly exhibiting core Christian behavior. Remember "Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself,"? Perhaps it would be wise to read the 7th chapter of the book of Matthew.
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:30 AM
"Maybe I know I’d feel even guiltier adding another lie to the holiday season (and this year, my 10-year-old is finally aware that Santa doesn’t actually slide down our chimney, so we’ve got him "lying" to our 5-year-old too about Santa too). " Surely, you can see how this sentence would be incredibly offensive to parents who feel it is acceptable to teach their children about Santa Claus and continue the tradition? You say you're not judging others, but you DID just indirectly call us all "liars."
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Such anger an animosity, attacking each other with personal insults, when you have likely never even met. Life doesn't need to be so complicated. As I noted earlier, Jesus absolutely did exist. History and science has proven this. Whether he was the son of God or not is a personal belief. I believe he was, you may not. That doesn't make either of us any better or worse than the other. I don't believe people who teach their kids about Santa are "liars" either. I believe they are simply trying to keep a little magic and whimsy alive for their children, who lack the intellect to fully grasp historical evidence and scripture related to Christmas. Science tells us that the human brain is not fully formed until the early 20s, so surely, nobody expects kids under 10 to completely understand and make their way through religious doctrine. May peace be with you, no matter who you are and what you celebrate.
Al Fundo December 11, 2012 at 12:36 AM
where did i demean anyones beliefs? early Christains used the pagan holidays to disguise their celebrations of the date they believed Jesus was born around 200 - 300 ad. if you wish to profess your views in a public forum, i may often wish to offer a counter view. do you believe in unicorns Ben? if God created light on the first day but didnt create the sun and moon until day 3...where did that light come from? that's right, magic ;) owe an apology for disagreeing that it's right to lie to your children? im sorry Ben, i dont understand?
Al Fundo December 11, 2012 at 12:40 AM
indoctrination into accepting the unbelievable during their most formative years. Santa is the gateway drug for accepting Christmas and with it Christianity.
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:42 AM
There is so much you don't understand about life, "Al Fundo." I wish you luck in your journey and peace along the way. I do not intend to argue with you.
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Whether or not you realize it (and I'm guessing you haven't done the research I have) your statement here is both incorrect and historically inaccurate- "early Christains used the pagan holidays to disguise their celebrations of the date they believed Jesus was born around 200 - 300 ad." What you just professed was a belief that Sir Issac Newton conceived of in the 18th century, over 1500 years after Christmas was first celebrated. The historical texts do not support it. By comparing Jesus with unicorns, you most certainly have demeaned the beliefs of millions of people. Again, however, you seem to be looking for a fight and you will need to look elsewhere. Peace be with you.
tracystough December 11, 2012 at 12:50 AM
@ben... However, you are right that i shouldnt have lowered myself to name calling...for that i apologize. Thank you for your response.Ilet my emotions get the better of me, and your words were much more to the point. @yea okay...you are incorrect, i am an extremely happy and upbeat person. I did let my emotions get the best of me. I dont believe its sheltering children to keep happy thought and dreams, and jesus in their lives. I dont let my children read all the news, however, an referencing the elf, seemed harmless enough. Good night and merry christmas!
Al Fundo December 11, 2012 at 12:51 AM
there are unicorns mentioned in the bible Ben, it seems you should know this though.
Al Fundo December 11, 2012 at 12:55 AM
just a quickie from wiki, sorry i was off a century. a celebration of rebirth at the time of the winter solstice far out dates the birth of Jesus. The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs may have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.[7]
Ben Miller December 11, 2012 at 01:42 AM
The biblical unicorn was a real animal and the term stood for an animal with one horn like the rhinoceros or narwhal. Greek mythology took the term unicorn from the Old Testament and created their own fictional account of it around 200 BC, coincidentally, when the bible was first translated into Greek. There's a lot of history out there, my friend. All one needs to do, to give an informed response is to simply do the research.
Pamela Porter December 11, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Wow. If the Patch is that subversive, you'd better avoid the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal and Ladies' Home Journal just to be on the safe side.
ron December 11, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Jeez, cant kids even believe in santa anymore without bone head adults overthinking and screwing everything up. Cant we just take a deep breath relax and just enjoy the sights and sounds and the spirit of the christmas season. What harm is it for a kid to believe in santa or for someone to say merry christmas to someone regardless of what their beliefs might be. Come on people get over yourselfs and just enjoy. I wish everyone a merry christmas and a happy new year.
Richard December 13, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Enjoy the ImageAMMO.com Show ... Make your own ELF on the Shelf SHOW! Go to http://iaws.imageammo.com/share.php?u=32337eaa58b41892322c07839871add6&w=15fceb65c1aa8549902a2cd5f0a92baa

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