Reflecting on suppressed memories of an elfless Christmas

This little elf can decorate another home, says Sherry.

This little elf can decorate another home, says Sherry.

Courtesy photo

I hate the elf on the shelf. No dislike or a discreet hatred, but total hatred. Now that my youngest child is some sort of adult at 21, one would assume that my days with the elf on the shelf are long gone, and that my feelings about a Christmas toy should have worn off about a decade ago.

And it actually happened – somehow. As in I, I’ve subdued those emotions to make room in my brain for more timely and pressing outrage. But then this month my daughter called me to complain that her Christmas vacation was severely lacking in elves on the shelf.

If you are confused right now and are reading the first paragraph again because you are thinking, wait a moment: didn’t she say that her youngest child is 21, so what the hell about that elf on the shelf? Nonsense? Here is a brief backstory.

My daughter, a senior in college, is currently experiencing a feeling that her childhood is spoiled because there is no elf on the shelf in her life. Those repressed memories were sparked by her part-time job as a dance instructor, where every child seems to be awash in the glitz of the pixie on the shelf glee.

Hence the call I received about why she was robbed of ever having an Elf on her shelf. In all honesty, I feared that day would come. I knew that one day it might bite my butt to keep the elf on the shelf out of my family’s Christmas traditions.

You don’t face marketing giant Elf on the Shelf and just expect you to get away with it unscathed. The Elf will seek retribution and it had finally come for me.

Fortunately, I was ready. I made myself comfortable with a box of ginger biscuits from Trader Joe’s to refresh myself on vacation and fired my first volley.

I told my daughter that elves’ choices were made out of love. Love trying to prevent further commercialization until the holiday season. As a mother I had indulged in an overwhelming amount of holiday nonsense, but the elf on the shelf was a bridge too far.

Then I became brutally honest. I confessed that the elf was a hater and had a narcissistic personality disorder. I mean, who but a narcissist would put one more commitment on a parent’s daily December to-do list. Did she know the damn elf has to be moved to a different place every night?

Even worse is the competitive nature of Elf on the Shelf. Parents get eager in their elf upping. May God have mercy on your soul if you don’t bring it into the nightly ritual of moving your elf. And not just moved from the living room couch to the kitchen counter, but staged in a holiday setting of malice that would put Hollywood set designers to shame.

I informed my daughter that I had to take a stand as a mother and that we were a proud elf in the shelterless family. No creepy elf would be our overlord – not on my watch, thank you very much.

My daughter was silent on the phone and then I heard her sigh and say, “So like you’re telling me you were too lazy to do the whole thing with the elves?”

“One hundred percent too lazy,” I said with a laugh. “Now go out and celebrate a happy little elf-free Christmas.”

You can reach Sherry Kuehl at [email protected], on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs, on Instagram @ and

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