This is Why the Elf is Not on MY Shelf (and Why I’m Not Even Kinda Sorry)


I know. Some of you love your elf. It’s a favorite memory-builder for the kids, and you probably already created a Pinterest board of clever ideas for where to hide the little guy this year.

That’s great.

For you.

But I just can’t do it. Can. Not.


Because as much fun as you have with your elf, for me it’s just another thing I’ve gotta add to my Christmas to-do list. And I’m determined to scale back this year, for the love of Jesus.

No, really. For the love of Jesus.

Why the elf is not on my shelf

Here’s the thing. We all have choices, right? You wouldn’t dare think of yanking the elf, but you might skip the white elephant lunch at work. And I might blow off the cookie exchange but there’s no way I’d miss volunteering for the school Christmas party. And so on. Of all the Christmas traditions and activities out there for us moms to grab, nobody does them all. We each decide what’s more important and what we can let slide.

But I don’t think we do it well enough.

My December agenda is jam-packed with anything from church brunches to gift wrapping parties to nursing home singalongs. Some to-do’s are non-negotiable, I mean, I can’t exactly ditch the mandatory school Christmas concert, nor would I want to.

But what about the stuff we add to our holiday calendars that causes more stress than joy joy joy?

Is it time to cut it out?

In my job as a freelance writer, I recently interviewed a family counselor on the topic of holiday stress. She said the secret to a merry Christmas is goal setting. Determine one or two objectives you want to accomplish this Christmas season, then filter all your activities through them.

For example, let’s say your goal is to relax and spend quality time with family. If addressing 100 Christmas cards helps you reach that goal, then by all means do it. If not, uh, fuh-get-about-it.

Or maybe your goal is to give to the needy. Will spending half a day stringing lights on the trees in your front yard help you accomplish that? Hmm. Probably not, unless you’re collecting canned goods from every car that drives by to gawk.

Think about it. Examining our Christmas to-do’s in light of one or two key goals—it’s life changing. Sanity saving. Brilliant and freeing!

And really, really hard.

Because so many of us have been duped into thinking we need to do it all—the shopping, the baking, the parties, the family outings—in order to make the most of this fleeting, magical season.

But I don’t want to make the most of it.

I want to make less of it.

Less on my to-do list, less running, less stress. I want room for laughter, snuggling, and stillness—to relish in the wonder of a God who willingly plummeted from his heavenly comforts to receive us as a helpless child in a manger. He did that for me. He did it for you.

So my goals this Christmas? (1) To celebrate Jesus, and (2) to build memories with my husband and kids. Technically the elf on the shelf could fit into that second goal. But I have sugar cookies to bake. Nativities to assemble. Paper countdown chains to cut, staple, and hang.

So I’ll leave the elf to you, my friend. He’s your thing. And I have mine. And together we are going to enjoy a very merry Christmas that matters.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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Becky Kopitzke
Becky Kopitzke is the author of The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood (Shiloh Run Press). On her devotional blog,, she offers weekly encouragement