Ask Miriam | Daughter Poses Question About Elf on the Shelf

Christmas tree
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Dear Readers,

My 8-year-old daughter asked me to please answer this question for her:

What should I do at the lunch table when all my friends are talking about their Elf on the Shelf and how Santa will get mad at them if they touch it?



Dear Aliza,

Huh! I thought that by third grade most kids had stopped believing in Santa. But what do I know, really, having never had Santa as part of my own life? Sounds like your classmates are still deep in Christmas magic. Since Elf on the Shelf was decidedly not a thing when I was a kid, it’s also worth mentioning that I couldn’t have predicted how that addition to the Christmas repertoire has impacted Christian kids (and their Jewish friends).

What I do know is that it’s the job of Jewish children everywhere to dramatically (and silently) roll their eyes when the topic of Santa comes up. As I wrote a couple of years ago, it’s not Jewish kids’ responsibility to keep this secret from their friends, but it sure is nice when they can. Though you know for absolute certain that Santa and elves aren’t real, your friends will not thank you for telling them the truth — and their parents will most definitely not thank me.

Fortunately, you have a lot of other people to talk to who are in on the secret: friends from Hebrew school and Makom, non-Christian classmates and so many adults and teachers who will understand your frustration. You probably even have some Christmas-celebrating classmates who don’t believe in Santa or that Elf who could be your allies for the next couple weeks.

While you should always be comfortable explaining to people that you are Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, when it comes to Santa, I’m proud of you for trusting your instinct not to get involved. You will have plenty of opportunities in your life to stand up for things that matter. This one, specifically, will be irrelevant soon enough. And until then, every day, after school, I promise to listen to your not-so-silent eye rolling.





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