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Self on the Shelf


The Life Less Traveled


December 07, 2011
Okay, I admit it. It's my issue. Millions of people love the Christmas sensation known as Elf on the Shelf. I just can't get there. Maybe it's because I don't like the idea of dolls coming to life in my house while I'm sleeping. Maybe it's because I've watched too many scary movies. Maybe I'm just a Scrooge.

If you've never heard of it, Elf on the Shelf has taken the country by storm as a beloved holiday tradition. Here's the deal. You buy the book and the creepy elf doll. You read the book to your kids. Then, the elf doll kicks into full surveillance mode and rats out your kids to Santa whenever they're being naughty. That's right. He's a North Pole informant, part of Kris Kringle's secret police.

When I heard about this, the first thing I thought was, if I'd had this thing in my house as a 6-year-old, I would have found a convenient way for old Elfie to have a little "accident." You know what I mean? Who's to say maybe one day the little guy doesn't just up and disappear? Being a Christmas elf has to be a dangerous occupation, especially if you know too much.

The Elf on the Shelf folks, however, have already thought of that. Turns out there's one simple rule about the elf doll. You can't touch him. You can talk to him all day long, but if you so much as lay one finger on him, you get totally Grinched at Christmas. No presents. Nothing. This guy has full diplomatic immunity.

As if that's not bad enough, it's get even weirder. When you go to sleep, the elf jets up to the North Pole to make his report, then reappears in a different spot in your house the next day. Yeah, you never know where he's going to turn up, which brings me back to my issue with having living dolls running rampant under my roof while I'm sleeping. Trust me, it's not happening.

At this point I'd like to formally apologize to the good folks at Elf on the Shelf who have brought holiday cheer to so many. I have friends whose kids love this thing. Not to mention all the parents' sanity that's been saved by arming them with the threat of the all-seeing elf snitch to keep their kids in line. I'm just too neurotic to be included in that number.

No, instead, this year I'd like to start a Christmas tradition I call Self on the Shelf. It's really simple. I'll just spend the next few weeks asking God to help me put myself on the proverbial shelf any opportunity I get. When I'm rushing around crazy busy and someone needs to talk, it's time to put myself on the shelf and lend a listening ear. When I get offended by my family or friends, it's time to put myself on the shelf and cut them some slack. In other words, whenever I'm making this holiday season all about me instead of about others, it's time for me to stick myself up on that shelf as fast as possible.

The Bible says that when Jesus came to Earth that first Christmas, He made Himself nothing. He set all the mind-blowing cosmic power of God aside and became one of us. He put His self on the shelf to come and live as a man so that He could die for us — all so we could become friends with God and put ourselves on the shelf for others, too. That's kind of the whole point of Christmas.

Christmas isn't so much about getting on the naughty or nice list but about taking yourself off the list altogether. So, if that Christmas elf shows up at my house this year, I'm going to tell him to mind his own business because this year's Christmas is not about me.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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  1. print email
    Elf
    December 14, 2011 | 06:21 PM

    I wondered what Elf on a Shelf was. Now, I know. Thank you for your humor and honesty. You made me laugh and think. I will be putting myself on a shelf. Putting others first.

    Donna Corydon
  2. print email
    Elf
    December 14, 2011 | 06:21 PM

    I wondered what Elf on a Shelf was. Now, I know. Thank you for your humor and honesty. You made me laugh and think. I will be putting myself on a shelf. Putting others first.

    Donna Corydon
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