December 19, 2011

Elf on a Shelf -- and Control

I’ve heard tell of some who dismiss the Elf on a Shelf as crass marketing. They think it’s creepy for an abnormally long-limbed doll with a plastic head and black oval eyes to keep watch by day and report to Santa by night.

But at our house, the elf has saved two children from the naughty list time and again. All it takes is a gentle reminder that elfie is watching, and the kids shape right up. Frankly, I’m anxious for the next iterations: bunny-on-a-cabinet, flag-on-a-pole and fireworks-in-the-sky. Maybe we can have every holiday covered.

A good friend told us about her 4-year-old’s experience with their Elf on a Shelf. He’s a delightful boy with sweet dimples and a long streak of mischief. When his mom opened the elf’s box, he slammed the lid back shut. Then he opened it carefully and came eye-to-painted-eye.

“If you know what’s good for you, elf, you won’t tell Santa everything.” 

A couple of days later, he underlined his point. Taking two red Solo cups, he scooped up the elf (the magic is lost if you touch the elf), put the cups lid-to-lid and wrapped masking tape around the edges. 

“Let’s see if you can fly to Santa now.” 

He wanted control. In an upside-down, frenetic world, he wanted to dictate the outcome. 
I feel like that about now. With less than a week before Christmas Eve, I want to put all of my to-do-lists in a box, tape it up and give it a good shake. 

There’s wrapping and mailing, baking and cleaning. And because Christmas isn’t busy enough for a clergy family, we decided to throw in a move to a new city 2 ½ hours away. 

But if we come away with anything from the Gospel of Luke yesterday, it’s that ultimately we have to surrender to God’s will. Allow him to care for us when our nerves are shot and the lines at the store are long. In the end, we might just get to see Jesus, not just born in a manger long ago, but living in and through us every day. 

And from elfie to Santa, that’ll preach.