If Christmas is ruined I know who’s to blame- a pesky little newcomer named Elf On The Shelf. I was at a holiday party the other night, reaching for my fourth cake pop, when I noticed him leering at me from the top of the china cabinet. Who invited this buzz kill to the party? If you’ve been under a rock regarding the latest ways we can screw the pooch when it comes to all things merry, let me enlighten you. Elf On The Shelf is a creepy little dude who sits, knees to chin, and peers out at the family in order to report back to the fat man in red. Elf On The Shelf’s soul (less) purpose is to judge anyone who is not measuring up and to keep score. This feels a bit off message for what is supposed to be the season of love and compassion.
The whole idea around this little whistle blower is that Santa is overwhelmed with having to keep track of the naughty from the nice. So the family can “adopt” an elf, welcome him into the home, give him a name- like Jack or Fred- and place him up on a pedestal so he can get a good gander of things. In turn, the elf will gladly spy on the kids and report back about all the “fun and adventure.” I don’t know about you, but having someone looking over my shoulder and taking note on the degree of my goodness, does not exactly incite “fun and adventure.” No wonder our kids are so stressed out.
As I crammed the cake pop into my mouth and stashed a fifth one into my purse for later, I could not help but wonder, what would happen if we all gave ourselves permission to be (dare I say) naughty. What if we made room under the tree for a little unconditional, unedited, and unreported fun? We have exhausted ourselves by the pursuit of perfection. We have been good! I don’t know about you, but I am itching for a dash of lowbrow humor, a splash of over indulging, and a sweet choir of inappropriate laughter. I got a little naughty in me and it won’t be denied.
This season, despite the glaring Elf, I am giving up perfection and going for being lighthearted and (with any hope) staying lit. I don’t mean that in a spiced “rum & Coke” kind of way… although that works too, and unlike the elf, I won’t judge you for it. Keeping score, taking note, trying our best to measure up to an ideal or idea of being good can suck the joy right out of everything. And let’s face it; perfection is never going to happen. NEVER. Perfect is the distant horizon that continues to evade us all. The pursuit of perfection, the fear of not measuring up, and the threat of being judged can sure take the jingle out of the festivities. I am just looking for a little more merry in my Christmas this year- Elf on the Shelf be damned.
I am pretty sure I saw him shake his head and write something down as I made my way to the bar. On my way through the crowded room, I passed by a nativity scene. There was the usual cast of characters, the kings and shepherds, the angel and the baby. Then I saw him, my old pal the little drummer boy. Rock on! The very sight of him redeemed a spark of hopefulness in me. He seemed to wink at me in his rag tag way and remind me that my scrappy, sorry, self still had a part to play.
I remembered listening to the story as a kid. I’ve always had a thing for musicians. But this little guy really won my heart. The way he showed up and gave his gift, the one from the heart, and how he wasn’t perfect or well-coiffed like the kings, with their Pottery Barn perfection. He just played. Remember that? Playing? It was this gift that got a rise from the birthday boy. It was not the frankincense, or myrrh. It wasn’t even the gold that did the trick…it was the drumming.
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pump um pum.
 Me and my drum.
So at the risk of being reported by little tattle tale, Jack on high, I am taking my Christmas back. I want the one where we all get to show up as we are and play the hand we got. The one where we sit around a cramped messy table of empty bottles and burnt Holiday cookies and share the stories that could make an old Elf blush. I want the one where we trade guilt for laughter and shame for awe.  I want the one that allows us to be unconditional and un-condemned. I want the sloppy, sacrilegious shenanigans that go unreported but always remembered. Let’s tuck away our gavels and judgment and bring out the drummer boys and, when no one is watching, have them knock the snot out of that little know it all on the shelf. I think that would be very nice indeed, at least my kind of nice.  And Santa does not need to know anything about this.
So, my friend, no matter how you celebrate the season, be it with dreidel, drink, or drum… play your best, light it up, and keep it merry.

Maureen Muldoon is a writer, speaker, storyteller and thought leader who helps you go from where you are to where you want to be in business, in love, and life. She blogs at www.communitysanctuary.com. ~ MaureenMuldoon.com and VoiceBoxStoryNight.com