Autumn is here, officially. That means baristas are slinging Pumpkin Spice Lattes, you're wearing a cardigan because for some reason it's cold in the office, and everyone's sharing that one Halloween meme any chance they get. The start of fall also means that a certain fairy-tale creature perched on a certain ledge will start to pop up everywhere imaginable. In fact, people are already creating Elf on the Shelf memes. C'mon, it's not even October yet!
In the interest of transparency, I will admit that I am not an Elf on the Shelf fan. My moms have suggested getting an elf for my toddler son, and my kneejerk reaction is, "No. Please God, no." But I get it, people find Elf on the Shelf hilarious — so much so that they've they've up their elf game with rhyming memes. According to TIME, it all started last month when a Tumblr user posted a photo with the caption, "You've heard of Elf on the Shelf, now get ready for..." The spin? A plastic Pokémon's Ash Ketchum placed in a garbage can. Get the rhyme? I'll wait...
Since then, other Elf on the Shelf-inspired rhyming memes have popped up. Not all of them are winners — or make any sense as far as sticking true to the poetic tool, goes. But at least people are trying, I guess.
If you've never heard of Elf on the Shelf (good for you), it's a Christmas tradition that usually begins well before Christmas is even close to being around the corner. Elf on the Shelf began as a children's picture book that published in 2005 and, according to its website, tells the story of scout elves that serve as Santa's eyes and ears in homes around the world. In other words: That elf sitting on your shelf is a tiny little spy telling the alpha boss all about your misdeeds. OK, that's a dramatic interpretation, but c'mon, the story is rooted in the idea of surveillance. It's kind of creepy — and really bad parenting form.
I am not the only one who see Elf on the Shelf that way. As Huffington Post posited in 2015,
So, what we are really telling our children is that they better behave… or else! This is really a veiled threat. As such, we can lump the elf in the same category as any other threats that parents use as an attempt to control their children’s behaviour. This method of parenting is called external control and is distinct from internal control parenting.
I'm also not the only one who's not into this rhyming Elf on the Shelf parody. Some social media users expressed their distaste for the meme.
You could say I'm a bitter person who finds no joy in the holidays, but you'd be wrong. Even though I'm not Christian, I hold Christmas near and dear to my heart because of what it meant to my late-grandmother. But I just can't get behind a whole story that's contingent upon threatening kids into good behavior. Just because something seems sweet doesn't mean it is.
I can't deny that the Elf of the Shelf makes people happy, even if the tradition and the memes annoy me to no end. Still, I have to reinforce the fact that it's not even October yet. I know people love their memes, but this Elf on the Shelf parody is just way too soon for my taste.
Plus, if social media is going to capitalize on viral traditions, can a few of you whip up ones for the Traveling Gnome? He was a fun guy and I miss him.