Now that I see everyone posting their "elf on a shelf" scenes and recalling memories of their child crying on Santa's lap, I would love to share my opinion on the matter. STOP! Ok, let me explain why.
Let's create a more inclusive holiday season with more kindness!
Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the elf on the shelf doing fun things throughout the month to bring some fun holiday spirit to your family. I love seeing the creative photos of the elf moving around the house and writing notes to the children. BUT I AM NOT OK WITH CHILDREN BEING TOLD THAT THEY NEED TO BE GOOD BECAUSE AN ELF IS WATCHING!!!
I am going to break down some holiday traditions that people are so used to celebrating but are not inclusive. But I am not going to be a grinch about this as I absolutely love this time of year. I will instead, give you alternatives on how to still enjoy these traditions but in different, more inclusive ways.
Elf on the Shelf
As I just said, I am not a fan of telling children to be kind because elves or Santa is watching. We aren't kind because we get presents, we are kind because we like to form bonds with our community and I know, personally myself, I like to be treated with kindness. Am I asking you to go throw away your elf on the shelf? No! You can even still make it a fun activity for your children.
Have your elf move around your house, have them decorate the tree, bring treats, write notes, whatever! Here is a time to create some fun lessons. I have seen teachers use the elf in their classroom to have the students work together to solve riddles, vote on a name, and teach the elf how to be kind.
The Elf can stay. The book can be thrown away.. or better yet, recycled.
Gender Specific Items (snowman and gingerbread man)
Now this topic really came to mind when I was trying to explain to my child why all of these names have "man" in them, even though we don't know how they identify. As a family, we now make the effort to add "person" instead of "man" or "woman."
I know I might have just lost some of you and this one might be too "woke" but as someone who identifies as a woman, I knew things needed to be changed. Even though saying "snowperson" and "gingerbread person" feels weird sometimes, I grow comfort in knowing that that will be totally normal for our children.
"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals" -Emma Watson
So we can comfortably saw we are all people, right? If Emma Watson says it, it must be true. :)
Christmas/Holiday Songs with Ill Intentions
Now these songs took me a couple of years to really decide that I didn't want my children singing these songs. And if they were planning on it, I was going to tell them why there is a bad lesson in the song, or atleast have a discussion. Here are the top holiday songs that need to be cancelled:
Baby it's Cold Outside
I know everyone loves the duet and it's fun. But it's promoting non consensual advances and I think it is safe to say that we don't need anything in our media to be approving this behavior. Thankfully, we have some great artists who are replacing the lyrics and updating this song to a much better version.
Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer
Now this song was kind of a late add on for me. We were singing some songs and we got to this one and all of a sudden I had an AH-HA moment of why are promoting bullying and there was only acceptance for Rudolph once he helped Santa pull his sleigh?!?!
Unfortunately, I don't have any songs to replace Rudolph, but this is a time to ask questions such as:
What would you do if you were a reindeer with a black nose and then met Rudolph?
How do you think this makes Rudolph feels?
What makes you different than other people?
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Ok. I feel like this song started because someone had some Santa fetish (I get it, beards are in). I assumed this song was a situation where dad was dressed up as Santa and the mom was kissing him and the kids saw it. But kids believing that a stranger comes down their chimney to give them presents, they thought their mom was having an affair, but it was fine because it was with Santa. *insert eye roll here*
And before you start coming at me with "stop being so dramatic" or "it's just a kids song." I will respectfully decline and say NO! This is not OK! However, this is a song that I sing when it comes on the radio and it is just like rudolph where I feel like we can discuss the situation at hand.
This might be the right time to tell you that I don't lie to my children and tell them Santa is coming and Christmas is all about gifts. We enjoy winter activities and holiday songs and I teach them some traditional things for Hanukkah and Christmas (as that is my culture). We do read books discussing other December holidays as well (that I shared in a recent post).
And really, Santa Baby, I am coming for you someday. But not today.
Movies that are Outdated
This conversation started early in my household when we were watching the beloved Christmas classic, A Christmas Story. Now before you "Oh, Fudge" me, they did do a remake of this movie. I haven't watched it yet, but as the original came out in 1983, I am thinking it is going to be more inclusive.
First, the mom in A Christmas Story gets mistreated the entire movie from everyone. Second, so much yelling at the children (shocking it doesn't work and then they lie). Third, the last scene is poking fun at people's accents. Come on!
Love Actually is another movie that has sexism and stereotypes that are not OK! Again, this is a movie that everyone loves. Now I won't even say the problems with this movie, but I would love for you to take a moment to say which relationship you really like. That you want to be in. That you would be happy for your children to be in. Please let me know.
Movies to add to your list:
Last Christmas. This move is adorable. Has all the Christmas vibes and the lesson of kindness. What a Christmas miracle!
Spirited. So. Funny. That's all.
And while we are on the Will Ferrell train, Elf.
What other movies can we add to the list?? I would love to see more diversity here.
Santa being white and fat
While I was a teacher at an elementary school, I was preparing with two other teachers on what songs our students should sing for the holiday performance. They wanted one song to be about Santa, but not a song that we hear a lot. I recalled a song that was from my childhood and the lyrics went something like..
"Santa Claus, Santa Claus, why are you so fat? I was sleeping peacefully but now my bed is flat.."
and it goes on.
Now this song is extremely fat shaming. I know I personally would be offended if someone sang this song about me.
The lyrics continue to say, "why are you so fat? I was sleeping peacefully and now my bed is flat" and "how much do you weigh, I am glad I am not a reindeer who has to pull your sleigh." Like OH MY GOD!! Some wording don't bother me as much, like the whole "stomach shook like a bowl full of jelly." But who knows, maybe someone will change my mind and I will disagree my next year!
Next, Santa's ethnicity. Here is a great article about the history of Santa Claus and what he really looked like. I do love that stores that are steering towards Santa being different ethnicities and putting other cultures on their holiday clothes. Representation matters!!
Lastly. Sitting on Santa's lap!!
If your child is saying "no," crying, moving away from Santa, or doing any other form of communication that is not running and jumping on a stranger's lap, support them. I don't look at pictures of children crying on Santa's lap and think "awwww." I think about how uncomfortable they must be feeling. That they communicated to their parents that they feel uncomfortable and did not have their parent's support. Here are the alternatives.
You sit on Santa's lap and let your child sit on yours. Oh.. do you feel uncomfortable with that? Shocking.
Take a family picture standing near Santa
Give high fives, fist bumps, or waves
Take a picture sitting in front of Santa
Take a picture with a sign or picture of Santa
Enjoy this Holiday season but start rethinking how you celebrate this holiday season. How can you make it more inclusive? How can you make it fun and continue to teach kindness to your children?
And HAPPY EVERYTHING!!
(click on the image below to be redirected to the website to find more inclusive holiday cards)