Holidays

7 Christmas Traditions Worse Than Elf On The Shelf

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Our house is an Elf on the Shelf-free zone. That smarmy little bastard is not welcome here, nor is his (sigh) Birthday Elf compatriot. Elf on the Shelf is the epitome of a contrived holiday tradition meant to sell product (hint: if you have to write the words “Holiday Tradition” on your product’s box in order for people to know what it’s supposed to be, you have failed as a human being). And unlike, say A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Elf has no apparent redeeming value. The only kind thing I can think of to say about Elf on the Shelf is that there are a few – a very few – Christmas traditions worse than it. Here are all seven that I could think of.

1. Mistletoe

creepy hairy guy with mistletoe(Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock)

I don’t understand the appeal of imposing mandatory smooches on anyone unlucky enough to get caught under a sprig of this poisonous plant, and based on the number of stock photo results I can find titled some variation of “creepy guy checking his breath under mistletoe”, I’m not alone. Worse yet, the restaurant chain TGI Friday’s recently debuted an advertisement featuring mistletoe drones that targeted patrons who appeared to be couples in a small-scale version of sports stadiums’ Kiss-Cam nonsense. That ridiculous omnipresent Elf’s creepiness isn’t even in the running with this tradition – nothing says ‘Christmas cheer’ like feeling pressured to consent to romantic attention that you may or may not want!

2. Zwarte Piet

zwarte piet costume(Twitter)

Zwarte Piet is the traditional Dutch companion of Saint Nicholas, because obviously, why would Santa want reindeer what we he clearly really needs is a horrific blackface stereotype to hang out with? Somehow, in a 2013 survey, 92% of Dutch people interviewed felt that there wasn’t anything racist about Zwarte Piet, and 91% were opposed to the idea of changing the character’s appearance. I assume somewhere around 91-92% of Dutch people also need an updated glasses prescription and/or a few history lessons. Whatever else you can say about the Elf on the Shelf, at least the marketing genius who came up with him didn’t decide to make him look like a minstrel show character.

3. War on Christmas coverage

tank decorated with christmas lights(Twitter)

One of the more recent American Christmas traditions, and mostly only honored by the Fox News crowd, although the rest of us have to hear about it every year. And if I have to suffer through Bill O’Reilly bloviating yet again about the moral perils of hearing the phrase ‘happy holidays’ from an overworked retail employee, I am going to retire to a hut in some remote part of the world that has never heard the word ‘Christmas’ before. Especially if I hear him do so after I’ve been hearing Christmas music on the radio since the middle of September. I would rather line every counter, bookshelf, and table in my house with the Elf on the Shelf’s smirking, smug little face than watch Bill-O complain about how we’re losing our Constitutional rights by not immediately erecting a nativity scene on the front steps of the city courthouse, the public library, and the state legislature every year the day after Thanksgiving.

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