"Who's Bernard?" my son asked staring at the doll, perplexed at the tree-year-old's excitement.
Our friend's oldest daughter, a wise seven-year-old, explained the concept: Bernard watched to make sure they were good until Christmas. He changed spots each day, and if you touch him, you lose three presents. My kids' confusion turned to sudden admiration for the damn doll.
"Mom, why don't we have a Bernard?" my daughter asked.
"That's a good question. Where's the playroom?" I replied--diverting my kids' attention. But here's the reasons I wanted to give them:
1. Your dad and I are simply too lazy. When you guys go to bed at night, we savor the freedom. We do really important things like eat cereal, watch TV, and go to sleep. The last thing we want to do is figure out a cute way to pose a doll. I guess that makes us selfish, too...
3. Do you really want another thing to monitor your behavior?! C'mon...don't be stupid...
At first, I felt guilty that we hadn't shared this piece of cultural tradition with our kids. But the guilt wore off when a fellow mom shared with me how stressful it was to think of something new for her elf to do each day. There's enough stress that accompanies the holiday season without the damn elf: picking out and wrapping presents, hiding the wrapping paper that only Santa uses, standing in massive lines of crying children so my kids can sit on
I admire the parents who post pictures on Facebook of their elf having another fun shenanigan. I think it takes creativity and perseverance to do this every day for the entire month of December, but it's just not for us. So, we'll continue finding little ways to make the holidays fun for our kids: like attending our community's free showing of A Christmas Carol, decorating my daughter's hair with red and green beads, enjoying Christmas-themed movies by the light of our Christmas tree, or fishing out millions of egg-shells from our cookie dough as I bake with them.