#8 – Elf on the Shelf
I know that I am going to catch some crap for #8. I know many of you have an elf on the shelf in your home. I know that for many of you, this is a lighthearted holiday tradition.
For those who do not know, the elf on the shelf is a personal elf sent by Santa himself to keep an eye on your family’s behavior between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each night the elf reports back to Santa and the elf’s report determines whether or not children end up on the naughty or nice lists.
Elf on the shelf operates a lot like the rest of the world. If you screw up, you get a stocking full of coal. If you are good, you get presents.
The elf on the shelf behavior monitoring system teaches our kids that if they want a present they have to be good. And as a new father I want nothing more than for Camden to behave. BUT if he misbehaves am I going to love him any less? No.
The problem with this mentality is that it runs contrary to what the Christmas nativity tells us.
What if we were to use the elf on the shelf mentality when we think of God? I know a lot of teenagers do. A lot of your kids think of God in the same way they see the elf on the shelf. If I am good God will reward me, and if I am bad, then God will punish me or not give me what I want.
God taking on human flesh at Christmas is the exact opposite of elf on the shelf theology. The grace of God that we experience at Christmas is give to us despite our bad behavior. The present that we all do not deserve still takes on human flesh.
When we sin, when we are at our lowest, our heavenly Father still looks upon us with love and grace.