Elf on the Shelf, meet Mary on the Mantle

Blog: Finding God In Our Mothering

‘Tis the season when the Elf on the Shelf will make their appearances. The first time we saw them was 2005, for a whole generation Elf on the Shelf makes up a family Christmas/Advent tradition, and I believe there is a missed opportunity.

The elves, “[some] make their first appearance on Thanksgiving night, and others wait until December.  Most of them will arrive during the official Scout Elf Return Week though, which is November 24 through December 1. ”  And it’s suggested that: “If your little friend hasn’t shown up by early December, it might be worth a note to Santa to check up on him!”Country Living Oct. 27, 2020

Advent has been a time to prepare for Christmas, the Nativity of Jesus.  It has morphed into a time of trying to keep children nice instead of naughty as they wait for Santa, and Jesus seems to have taken a second seat.

One family took a different approach to the Elf On The Shelf: Our daughter’s elf will leave her a note saying that she, The Elf, isn’t there to see if she, the daughter, is being naughty or nice because she, The Elf, already knew that our daughter is a nice girl,  and everyone has difficult days every now and again.  So, her Elf is only there to visit, so she, The Elf, could help give Santa with some good ideas of what their daughter may like for Christmas.  

This is a great way to do The Elf because it takes away the unrealistic “Christmas Behavior” and it puts it back into perspective that behavior is an everyday chose.


Another different mode of Elf on the Shelf, and filling in the missed spiritual facet, a very creative group, Be A Heart, has created an answer to Elf on the Shelf: Mary On The Mantle, and it is pure genius! 

It bridges the gap between behavior is a choice not a bribe, and the missing spiritual aspect.

What an excellent way to share with the family the spiritual/emotional journey of Mary as she prepares to bring Jesus into the world.  Mary on the Mantle gives families an opportunity to experience Advent much more deeply, especially because it is interactive.  Moms can explain Mary’s feeling by sharing the stories of their children’s birth,  Dads can explore how they believe Joseph must have felt. These stories will draw parents and the child(ren) into the story of Mary making it personal, real.  Making this whole activity a type of Scriptural Mediation.

Here are some questions to ponder.

Ignatian Spiritual Exercise:

More To Consider

Article From McGrath Institute for Church Life Longanimity: The virtue of waiting for God
Longanimity is a fruit of the Spirit, it is the virtue of extraordinary patience, one everyone has to practice.
Info Please article about the history of Advent

Catholic Central Video Explanation of Ignatian Scriptural Mediation

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