Last Updated on December 22, 2019 by World's Okayest Mom
To keep the holiday season magical (and long-lasting), a few rules to standardize traditions
Haven’t we all… at one time… each day… wished the hospital sent us home with a how-to guide on raising our children?
But today, I’m not talking about instructions as to when to start solid foods, or whether Caillou is educational or the devil in disguise, or the right disciplinary action when your child pretends to be a dog and “pees” on other students. (Or is that one just me and My Girl?)
I’m talking about the really important stuff.
Like… for the love of all that is holy, it should be in writing how much the Tooth Fairy brings when that first tooth finally falls out. Or specific guidelines as to how much mischief that cursed Elf on the Shelf is supposed to wreak on our homes.
So I’m starting a grassroots movement to standardize parenting.
Vote for me.
After all, everything is being standardized these days – standardized testing at school, standardized sales process at work, you get the idea.
I’m not saying you all have to do exactly as I do, but I’m the one taking the initiative to get us all on the same page. So, yes, you should do as I do.
This comes at a very appropriate time, since the holiday season is upon us. Which means Elf on the Shelf, all her furry little friends, Santa Claus and all those other fun family traditions are upon us. And now that My Girl is eight years old, she talks. A lot. All the time. Basically non stop.
(But that’s another issue.)
The concern today is she’s talking to her friends, and they are starting to see inconsistencies in our parenting.
I noticed it a few months ago when driving My Girl and her friends to a birthday party. They started talking about lost teeth and the tooth fairy. I was horrified – and My Girl was green with jealousy – when her friend said that the tooth fairy brings her $10 per tooth and candy.
First – what the hell are those parents thinking? Who can afford to give $10 per tooth! Do they know how many baby teeth these kiddos have?! Also candy? I think someone is missing the point of good oral hygiene.
So to start my standardization: Tooth Fairy brings $1 per tooth. I repeat: $1, you over-achieving parents! And also, she gets a 24-hour leeway, because who of us here hasn’t forgotten at least once to sneak that dollar under the pillow? So let’s just set the standard with our kids that she has a little extra turnaround time because she’s pretty overworked.
Now that crazy little elf.
Raise your hand if you fell into the Elf on the Shelf trap.
Me! I did! My hand is up and waving like a know-it-all in sophomore chemistry class.
Thank you, The Sister, for purchasing us our very own Elf on clearance many years ago.
Can I just say a few things, before my standardization rules?
- If you don’t have an elf. GOOD FOR YOU. Don’t do it! There’s a meme on social media circulating that says it best: Our house is an Elf Free Zone… There’s enough tiny little assholes messing up my house already.
- It is so much work. It sounds like fun, and honestly, My Girl loves it. But my creative juices are pretty much spent by about 7 p.m. every night. You want me to come up with something cute and creative AFTER My Girl has gone to bed. No. After My Girl has gone to bed is devoted specifically to mindlessly trolling Instagram and watching episodes of Friends or America’s Next Top Model. Oh, and drinking wine. Who has time to purposely mess up your own house?
- Lastly, those little buggers are creepy. Why are we encouraging something to sneak into our house every night and then watch our children all day long? Plus, if you see some of the things posted on Pinterest that elves do (tie up other toys, eat all the sugary foods, vandalize family photos, TP the Christmas tree), they deserve to be on the naughty list.
But, nevertheless, we have an elf. Her name is Holly. She’s semi-mischievous. She’ll break into Momma’s caramel M&M’s but doesn’t hold Barbie at gun point with a Nerf gun. So she’s not a complete asshole. Plus, even though moving Holly every night is a pain, My Girl really loves her. She jumps out of bed every morning and hunts through the house to find her. I have to say, mornings in December are a little easier.
The problem is, My Girl is a big believer in Santa and Holly the Elf right now. But she notices that Holly doesn’t act the same as other friends’ elves. For example, my bestie B. Swift is one of those annoying parents who is killing the curve for the rest of us. Her family’s elf shows up mid-November; ours comes on Thanksgiving night. Her elf brings gifts on a regular basis, like cute mugs and hot chocolate; ours is lucky if she remembers to move every night.
Then, My Girl gets really confused because Jane doesn’t have an elf at all. Oh, Dear Monica… Why were we not friends four years ago when you could have talked me out of this madness before it even began?
Luckily, My Sister had an answer ready when My Girl finally asked the inevitable question as to why Jane didn’t have an elf. Monica didn’t ask Santa for one. Luckily, My Girl took that as the truth and didn’t dig any deeper, because I’m pretty sure the lie would have unraveled quickly.
So Elf Rules:
- No gifts. How would those poor, tiny elves travel every night from the North Pole to our house with handfuls of gifts? It’s not logical, and this momma is winging every move the elf makes, so there’s no way I can plan in advance something as thoughtful as a themed present!
- I love the idea of the elf breaking its leg so she’s unable to move at some point. So, halfway through the Christmas season, all elves should become Clumsy Elves on the Stairs and take a tumble. Boom. (Maybe Holly was indulging in a little too much Elf Juice during her nightly visit to the North Pole. Who knows?) But, the important thing is: No more moving rest of the month. Doctor’s orders. And, done!
- No damn Elf Pets. We have the reindeer, and I have to say, that thing is worse than Holly. I don’t have to move it, but still requires the illusion of magic. If My Girl stops believing this reindeer pet is real then the whole Santa myth comes undone.
Actually, while I’m on that, can I make another suggestion to make parenting easier?
Don’t put tags on toys that we’re trying to pawn off as real.
Yes, a good parent would take said tag off the toy before trying to peddle it to their child as Christmas-y and magical, but it’s been firmly established that I’m not a good parent (see here, here and here). So the first thing My Girl did when receiving her Elf Pet back on the day after Thanksgiving was examine the tag. She didn’t say anything, but I noticed a very pointed and suspicious look toward it.
So, I was ready when she asked me the inevitable question a few days later:
“Why does Snowflake have a tag that says made in China?”
For her own protection, of course, I answered. If grown-ups all knew Snowflake was real and possessed magic, people would try to steal her. So, Santa put a toy tag on her to throw people off the trail. Sneaky Little Santa Claus.
She bought it. Probably because she wanted to, rather than my story was that good. But I’ll take what I can get.
Then there’s Santa Claus.
Oh, the discrepancies with Santa Claus!
I appreciate that every family has their own fun traditions. But you’re ruining the years I have to bribe My Girl with behaving in order to avoid getting coal for Christmas! The more she talks to friends and finds out Santa operates completely differently, the less she believes!
- Visiting Santa during the holiday season/Pictures with Santa. We are not big Santa people. We talk about him a little; obviously there’s the elf; but we don’t go out of our way to visit him at the mall or send him a wish list. But My Girl is confused as to how Santa knows what she wants when she didn’t tell him. Magic, I say. But the she responds with why did Aunt B. Swift and the kids have to go visit him to tell them their Christmas list. Damn B. Swift and her excellent, on-top-of-it parenting!
- The amount of toys Santa brings. When I was little, Santa brought all of our presents. Every. Single. One. Some of My Girl’s friends say Santa only fills their stockings (like the songs say, so kudos to those parents for following the only directions we have in regards to Ol’ St. Nick). My Girl gets one big present from the jolly man.
- Wrapping. While I didn’t think My Girl paid much attention to how the toys from Santa were delivered (the wrapping paper is torn off in a rabid dog frenzy), she’s starting to be more aware. Monica’s oldest has always been very observant. Monica hides a special roll of wrapping paper that is used strictly for the toys that Santa brings. She then has to get rid of the paper because Jane would remember and notice if it was used next year. I get a free roll of barely-used wrapping paper, so I shouldn’t complain. I do not put this much thought into the wrapping. Sometimes I use whatever paper I have; sometimes, Santa doesn’t even wrap the gift.
So, let’s lay down the ground rule.
- Santa has magic and knows if children are naughty or nice and also knows what they want for Christmas (and if he’s unsure, an iPhone is a pretty damn good guess). BUT, some parents want to make sure their children’s requests are heard in person. As for my household, we just trust in Santa’s magic and like to be surprised.
- Santa brings one, nice gift – probably the gift the child most wants, because I’ve seen enough Christmas movies to know that when a kid doesn’t get their heart’s desire from Santa, they will need therapy in later years (i.e. The Santa Clause – who knew that not getting an Oscar Mayer weiner whistle could cause such long-lasting effects on a person?). I’m setting this rule down for two reasons. 1. Logistically – it’s hard enough to believe that Santa can carry around a present for every single nice child in the world, but a whole bundle of presents? Even naïve kids have a breaking point. And 2. Selfishly – I want credit. I did the planning for the perfect presents. I did the shopping. I did the wrapping. (And by “I”, obviously, I mean “The Husband and I”…. Ok, no I don’t. It was all me.) I would like some of the credit. Why should some faceless, fat man with magical reindeer get all the Christmas gratitude? He’s lucky I let him take credit for the best gift.
- No wrapping – this goes back the logistics of the magical night of Christmas. How does Santa have time to make, deliver and WRAP all the presents? (Ok. Elves. But at heart, I’m a cynic.) And logistically from the parents’ side: one more thing to do on Christmas Eve… So nix the wrapping. Since Santa is bringing one nice, bigger gift, I say assemble it (enough work on its own), plop a bow on it and call it a holly jolly night. Even without the wrapping, we all know we are going to be up all night putting the toy together. It’s a rite of parent passage. When My Girl was two, I kept bugging The Husband to put together her kitchen set that Santa delivered. The Husband kept putting it off saying it wouldn’t take him long. At 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, he finally started assembling like an Avenger. He was shocked when he opened the box and a million little pieces tumbled out. I stood there with my “I Told You” smile (it’s very attractive, I assure you) and he stared in horror. “I thought it was only two steps!” he said. Because the brand of the kitchen was Step2. Needless to say, three hours later, it was done. And unwrapped.
So there you go. Let’s all band together with the dual purpose of making Christmas easier on ourselves but preserving the lie that allows us to threaten our children with a fat, stalker-ish man and coal. Because I don’t know about you, but I’ll do about anything to bribe My Girl into good behavior.