From family tradition to holiday sensation

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Each holiday season families engage in traditions that were passed down from their parents and grand parents.

Most are held tightly and continue through the generations. Some traditions entail opening one present on Christmas Eve, while others may involve decorating the tree as a family.

Some families may watch a certain movie every year, such as Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooge or Home Alone.

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Many children even look forward to watching animated classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

About seven years ago a family decided to share their own family tradition, Elf on the Shelf.

Some people without full knowledge of the tradition may have seen others post pictures of an elf figurine in their home.

The figurine comes with a book, which tells the story of a magical elf with the ability to fly to the North Pole each night between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to report to Santa Claus whether the children in the home are being naughty or nice.

It’s an interesting take on the story of Santa Claus everyone has grown up with, which is ultimately an effort to entice children to be on their best behavior in the hopes they will be rewarded with lots of presents come Christmas morning.

It’s commendable that a family was able to successfully produce and market their own tradition into popularity. However, some criticism surrounds Elf on the Shelf.

One such criticism is that it instills in children a sense of always being “watched” by a magical being, who already have extensive imaginations. While the story of Santa Claus has the same theme, this iteration entails a physical aspect; children will wake to find the Elf “magically” moved around the home during night.

Additional criticism centers on allowing children to grow up believing a lie.

But as well all remember, childhood is about the innocence of believing in fantasy; because as we grow older there are few escapes to the sometimes harsh nature of adult life.