Why We Don’t Have an Elf on the Shelf

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Let me get this out in the open. I’m not judging you if you have adopted an elf to report your children’s behavior to Santa. I’m not. But, let’s just say, it’s not for me.

Lest you think I’m all Bah Humbug and no fun…click around here. We have a lot of fun. We laugh a lot, our kids are spoiled rotten (really), and they are mostly well-behaved.

But when we get down to it, Christmas is about gifts. And not just any gifts. One particular Gift. One we received not because of our exemplary behavior, but because we needed Him.

So, for the same reasons I try not to bribe my kids to so the regular things they should do anyway, I’m not going to bribe or cajole my children into being good family members in hopes of receiving good things for Christmas. Sometimes they are wonderful, lovely creatures, and sometimes they prove perfectly that they were born sinful human beings, in need of a Savior.

In our home our children find chocolate coins and other little trinkets in their shoes on the morning of December 6. We discuss the real St. Nicholas. We continue to focus on Advent. We repent of our sins. We pray that Christ will come again. And on December 24 and 25 we go to church and we have a grand celebration with our church family. We eat too much fabulous food, and we give our children too many presents that they don’t deserve. However, our parental love for our children overlooks their most obvious flaws and we want to give them good gifts.

Our Heavenly Father is the same. He does not need someone to report our behavior to Him. He knows our very thoughts and our hearts. And, in spite of, and because of our behavior He sent His perfect, holy, innocent Son to earth to be sin for us.

That, my dear readers, is a gift that cannot be bought. It is a free gift.

Join me throughout Advent as I share some of our traditions (fun and serious) and glorify the most  Wonderful Gift of all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)


Chime in! What special ways do you mark Advent? Are you incorporating new traditions this year? You know I’d love to hear from you!


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About the author : Dakotapam

I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including toddler twin girls. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!

15 comments to “Why We Don’t Have an Elf on the Shelf”

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  1. jill - November 30, 2011 Reply

    Love this.

  2. priest's wife - November 30, 2011 Reply

    This is where we are too- ‘Santa’ brings stockings on Christmas Day- but he already came with trinkets for his feast day…just an excuse for fun, I guess

  3. Melisa - November 30, 2011 Reply

    I’ve never read that before. Growing up we got “celebrated” St. Nick’s day by getting our stockings on Dec 6, filled with fruit, popcorn ball, nuts and some trinkets. I love this idea. Forgive me Pam, I’ve known you for 10 years now, but have forgotten some small details such as do you have your kids place their shoes by the door as in the story? How do you execute this? My girls would love this, and probably getting a couple Squinkies in them as well.

    • Dakotapam - November 30, 2011 Reply

      Yes, the kids leave their shoes by the door the night of December 5…unless it sneaks up on me…then the night of the sixth.

  4. Melisa - November 30, 2011 Reply

    Btw, we do not do the elf, nor Santa. Emma, my see it the way it is child, figured out the Santa thing a long time ago (along with tooth fairy, long before she lost teeth). I tell my kids if I’m spending money on gifts, I want the credit!

  5. Martha - November 30, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for explaining about Elf on the Shelf. I had heard of it, but I had no idea what it was all about.

    • Dakotapam - December 2, 2011 Reply

      I heard of it last year and did not give it much thought, this year they seem to be everywhere, so I had to look into it all more. I think we’re Ok without it. After all, I already have to “feed” the Danish Nisse on Christmas Eve so he can protect the house:) I have no more room for mythical creatures!

  6. Jennifer - December 1, 2011 Reply

    I don’t do the Elf on the Shelf either. Not so much because I am against it, just never got into it. Not really sure why though, I am a bit of a sucker when if comes to fairy tales and whimsy!

    • Dakotapam - December 2, 2011 Reply

      Jenny! I GET that! Every year I see one more idea to try and I want to do it ALL! I have no limit to what I want to shove into our celebrations. However, I rarely leave margin, which is something that I want to work on.

  7. Shannon - December 2, 2011 Reply

    We keep an Advent wreath at home and have a special dinner when we light it every Sunday evening. Usually I will look up a passage from the Bible, and we will talk about it. Since they are still pretty young, we talk a lot about “preparing Him room” in our hearts, the way you prepare a home for a new baby. My little guy, in particular, loves that baby. We have a little ragdoll elf too, but we don’t make much fuss about him. Usually when no one’s looking someone will move him to a new spot, and we’ll all say “wow, how did the elf move?” However it is not the “official” elf from Target, hahaha.

    • Dakotapam - December 2, 2011 Reply

      I like the idea of preparing room like preparing for a baby. I’ve been pregnant during advent five times now! I think most of the kids can relate. I like the idea of a special Sunday dinner when adding a lit candle!

  8. Dakotapam - December 2, 2011 Reply

    Thank you, Claire. I try. Sometimes I fail, but I hope that in the end, I’ve given them what they need!

  9. Linsey - December 3, 2011 Reply

    We don’t to elf on the shelf, either, but I only just heard of it this year! I agree that the reporting of bad behavior to Santa seems creepy, but I really don’t like it because my kids should get instant consequences for behavior so they can learn and adjust. How can my kids learn to be well-behaved if they only do it for one holiday a year (and their “consequence” won’t occur until Dec. 25?) Great discussion, and I love that you respect other parents’ choices in explaining why you believe the way you do!

    • Dakotapam - December 6, 2011 Reply

      Yes, that. I think immediate consequences are very important. Thanks for chiming in!

  10. Rebecca - December 7, 2011 Reply

    I am not in favor of Elf on a Shelf either. I just don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the bribes, but not bribing so they have to worry about weather or not they will get a Christmas present or two. My bribes include, “If you don’t start acting like you should, I will gather up a bag of toys and donate them to some kids who will appreciate them” That is just ONE of my bribes. There are plenty.

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