Jonah, if you are 7 or under and reading this, STOP.
Jo, if you are between the ages of 8-13, ask me first before you read.
JD, if you are 14 or over, feel free to read. I'm sorry for the bubbles that are about to burst.
1. My parents instilled a wonderful love of Christmas and magical cheer for the season in me...and with Jonah's entrance into the world I was just beginning to digest the fact that Santa will not come to my house and put out presents and leave behind magical non-melting snow and boot prints and carrots nibbled by reindeer anymore. No, it's not because he's dead. It's not because he isn't real. It's because he already lives here. Because I am Santa.
And I've been very fine with my new identity. I've been very excited! I've been looking forward to the increased pressure to be both homemade-cinnamon-roll-maker-present-buyer-stay-within-the-budget-Mom AND Santa-stay-magical-but-also-within-the-budget-Claus. I was feeling a liiiiitle stressed to add on top of it all the other traditions like Christmas pajamas (how much is too much to spend? Do we all need Christmas pajamas or just Jonah? When do we open them? What should the backdrop for our pajama photo be?) and making my family look like mannequins for a Christmas card (how much is too much to spend? Do we all need a new outfit for that or just Jonah? When do we schedule them? What should the backdrop be? How will we all get on clothes without spit up AT THE SAME TIME?) and of course ACTUALLY making the whole thing about the real meaning of Christmas because then seriously what kind of mother would I be...
And then I remembered about stockings and I was a gonner. At that point I knew it would just be a stressful season and if I could get everything purchased before Thanksgiving each year and print a master December calendar wired down to the hour for my Mom identity and my Claus identity then maybe, just maybe, we could provide our child the all-American Christmas experience.
THEN I learned about this little fellow. This little, creepy, conniving, son of a gun who was too annoying for Santa to work with so he started his own business weaseling his way into homes to give mothers that onnnnne little push to officially send them into crazy land.
So I guess every night in December, after your North Pole Breakfast to introduce your 'adopted' Elf (clever. It's like you're against adoption if you don't buy this thing), you station this thing in a cute way in the house so he can watch if the kids are being bad or good for Santa. And when I say station, I mean crap like this every single night:
But they just tell you he comes to watch the kids. He's really there to watch YOU, the MOM. I can just hear his annoying voice now..."Where will you hide me tonight? Aren't you going to buy me different outfits? The other kids' elves have different outfits! Why don't we do the birthday and Valentine's and Easter and Fourth of July and Arbor Day and the Lincoln's Birthday and National Pie Day tooooooo????"
Seriously WHO did this to me?! I will FIND you and I will NOT say thank you.
2. The second thing I've learned that I don't like in the parenting world is this idea that saying no is a bad thing. You're called 'negative' if you say no. Well sure. You're saying 'no.' But why is that bad or wrong? 'No' is incredibly healthy and as a toddler grows and discovers, he seeks boundaries. Boundaries are good for us. They keep us safe, they keep us spiritually healthy, and they keep us from becoming the worst versions of ourselves (unlike Elf on the Shelf). Saying no is a skill many adults in our culture have lost as well (hence the parenting advice I suppose). We don't tell ourselves no, so we take on debt to have that thing NOW, we eat the cookies and watch TV instead of jog, we Facebook instead of read, and we've created a mess.
All the while God has given us clear principles to keep us within boundaries that not only glorify him, but benefit us. Many of them involve no, but where you say no to one thing you say yes to another, and if you're saying no to the right things, your yeses are to freedom, health, fulfillment, security, and peace.
And I'm positive about that.