Elf on a Shelf and Baby in Box

1 12 2015

When I was growing up I heard, ” You better watch out, you better not cry….He knows when you’ve been bad or good…” He, Santa, was the Christmas version of the All Seeing Eye! Now Santa needs some help.

For more than a decade a new twist has emerged. It  seems that Santa is sending Elves to spy in the homes of little boys and girls.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all things true on the internet from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Santa has scout Elves, AKA an Elf on a Shelf,  who watch in homes to report back to Santa. At the end of the day, when children are asleep, these Elves fly back to give their summary to Santa and then return before the children wake. To make their spying more effective they hide in a different place upon their return. The challenge is for the children to find them. The logic is that when not seen the less-than-good deeds go unrecorded. Well, it’s really just a game.

To be honest, it seems a great idea to sell toys but a poor attempt to improve on Santa’s spying abilities. Surely someone who could find boys and girls all around the world in a sleigh powered by reindeer, all in one night,  could do better! So, hold  your hats. I am here to break a HUGE story.

It seems that the Black Ops Division of the North Pole has installed wireless cameras in the homes of citizens of planet Earth. They have an unlimited battery life, like reindeer on Christmas Eve.  “Santy Cams“, were placed in the homes of the boys and girls as they were sleeping and without the presence or knowledge of the Scout Elves. The first install began on December 26, 2014 and began full operational status on USA’s Independence Day, July 4, 2015. Sprinkled with pixie dust, they are invisible to the human eye, especially adults. On this past Thanksgiving Day the Scout Elves discovered them. They were not happy.

These automated cyber sleuths report back to the North Pole Command Center in real-time, day and night.  This has proven a more effective method of information gathering since they run 24/7/365 instead of between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The software and firmware  are updated on February 29. This obvious flaw allows that one day every 4 years could potentially wreak havoc on global childhood behavior. Tech support pledges, “We will fix this.”

A spokesperson for S.C. reports that the cost of world-wide installation will  be recouped by the  savings from the Good Little Boy and Girl Production Area in one fiscal year. However, opponents from the Elves Union argue that increased capital outlay for expansion and production  demands of the Bad Little Boys and Girls Area will be through the roof. The local 999 of the PACS, Production of Ashes, Coal and Switches, Union is threatening a walk out on December 1 as increased production has brought environmental and workplace hazards. The snow around the naughty area is no longer bright and glistening. Eye witnesses describe it as  winter grey. When pressed for clarification , the witness said, “Have you ever seen U.S. Northeastern Interstate Highway slush ?!”

The next phase of Santa’s Cyber Surveillance is in beta testing  and will be operational  by mid-December. The Surveillance Division and the Aero-Toys Division have  cooperated  to produce a drone designed to observe and report behavior. Citing a huge information gap when children leave home, this Ubiquitous Air-Cam, also made invisible by pixie dust, will also report back to Command Central in real-time. New software has eliminated the leap year flaw in the Santy Cam.

Sales and Marketing reports that non Santa-grade drones without reporting software or pixie dust are flying off of the shelves by shoppers seeking the latest in trending technology.  Software Development is exploring a means of activating these ‘passive’ drones to ‘active’ reporters at a future date. Shoppers report,  “They are more fun than model airplanes. ” One purchaser shouted, ” These are Sick!”

Of course, all of this is fictional and not intended to disillusion or disturb the child in any of us. But it does cause me to wonder just how far we are willing to allow ‘make believe’ to color our ‘real’ lives.

In saw a Facebook post from the original page, Mommy Made, (not to be confused with http://www.mommymade.com, the web page of the creator of Baby Einstein), It read, ” Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others…What it does do is teach children to believe in something they cannot see or touch….” She concludes this belief in Santa will allow belief in, among other things,God.

As you might guess, I beg to differ not from an expertise in child psychology but from a place of faith. Santa is not the source, motivation or inspiration of loving, giving or belief in the unseen. The Salvation Army kettles are not red because of Santa’s suit. Volunteers don’t ring those bells to be Santa’s heralds. Folks don’t reach in their pockets so Rudolph has enough feed for the winter. The  toys, coats, shoes and a host of other gifts are not collected  to make a sleigh full of gifts for the round mound from the frozen ground. Homeless Shelters and Food Pantries don’t say, “Santa made me do it”. WWSD won’t catch on.

Some might point to an innate goodness within us to move us to action. Maybe. Many claim a humanitarian, Spiritual, religious or faith-based inspiration. But for those us who came to believe in something we could not see or touch; it is because someone shared a story of God’s intimate coming in real-time and space through a Baby in a Box. This wooden crate was  made for feeding animals and wound up cradling the Bread of Heaven.  Such is an immediate and personal expression of love. As Christina Rosetti penned,    ” Love Came Down at Christmas.”

It is good to know the difference between  magic and mystery, pretend and promise. Magic is an illusion. Mystery tells of truth. Pretend is a distraction. Promise sees what will be. To quote Michael Card, ” That’s What Faith Must Be.”  ( Excuse, Skip or listen to the ad, to is up to you.)

Have a little fun with Elves on Shelves, Drones in the Darkness and Santa’s Cyber Sleuths. But know the difference in imagination and inspiration. Teach the little ones the same.   I believe the Baby in the Box is the reason we love, we live and we give. We love because He first loved us. We give because he first gave to us. Love is our plea, our token, our gift,  our sign.

And about this naughty or nice thing…The switches were woven into a crown of thorns. I understand He is not looking to punish but to give His best. .Isn’t that Good News!!

It is a mystery but such is Love.





No Hitting!

17 09 2014

Recent headlines from the NFL have not shone a favorable light on some men who make a living hitting people. Lining up with pads and helmets, NFL football is a violent sport grown men play.

Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy are three of the men who don pads and helmets on Sunday afternoon, who have been charged with abuse. Rice and Hardy are convicted of abuse on a female. Adrian Peterson  has been charged with child abuse.

People defending and chastising Mr. Peterson have come forth. He has admitted his excessive force injured his son, said he did not mean to hurt him and pledged to find other more appropriate means of punishment.

Let’s turn the clock back. The time was the early 1950’s. Corporal punishment was the order of the day in schools. Good Southern Christian parents were told via the King James Version of the Bible, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Proverbs 13:24

Rob playing web

Robby Rollins est. 3 years old

On this Saturday a three year old, soon-to-be four was playing outside. He was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Barefoot and free he enjoyed the beauty of a summer morning as only a child can.

A call came from the backdoor to come in. It was time to go with his father for a haircut, a bi-weekly ritual which he enjoyed because it meant being a ‘ big boy’.

Time outdoors, although brief, was all that was needed to get dirty. This made his mother mad. In her rage she grabbed him by the arm and took a ‘hickory’ and whipped him. The exposed calves of the boy took the brunt of the punishment. The rod was not spared. The boy was not spoiled.

Angry emotions, supple legs and a hickory stick do not mix well. Cuts into tender flesh brought blood to mark each lash. Like most who cross the line in anger, remorse soon set in. Once the tears were dried, clothes changed, temper cooled, the mother said to her husband, ” I cut the blood out of that boy. Ain’t that a shame?”

Then that boy went to get the haircut. The barber asked, “how are you”, as he put him on the board across the barber shop chair arms,. The unexpected response came as the child lifted up his long pants that hid his wounds and said, ” My Mama cut the blood out of my legs, ain’t that a shame?”

You might ask, why tell that story? I wondered the same thing as it was retold at family gatherings for over 50 years, like a joke that all thought was funny, save one.

It was told as a reminder of how difficult that boy was. It bore witness to how exasperated a parent can get. It was a testimony to fidelity to scripture by loving parents who would not spare a rod or spoil a child.

So, why tell it now? So that a three, soon-to-be four year old child playing blissfully in the late summer of 2014 and the many summers after, will have a voice. So parents might hear and look for a way to guide without abusing the tender body or spirit of a child.

I have long made my peace with that day and the similar days that followed. The scars have healed. Well, for the most part.

I have come to understand how she could only use the tools she had. I wish others might have been available.

I am confident the look coming from those dark eyes was anger. Yet, I do not doubt she loved me.

As a parent, I know I failed more often than I wanted. That is a story for another day. Perhaps it was with that acknowledgement that I found the words of Jesus helpful,
” Father forgive… they/she/he don’t know what is being done (my paraphrase).

So, if you still feeling the sting of anger from an adult cling to that verse like a life raft in hurricane, even if you suspect they did know. I pray now they know better.

If you are looking for a Biblical scripture to hold onto when trying to guide a young mind and spirit, how about  this one from Mark 10:14, ” But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.