Practicing Inclusion

20121210-055726.jpg Meet Elfonso. He’s our “Elf on a Shelf.”

Doesn’t look like your Elf on a Shelf? Let me guess two reasons why: 1) Our Elf has brown material and 2) Our elf isn’t made of ceramic.

Let me explain.

A few years ago, the kids asked me about Elf on a Shelf. And, given that I had just had a mastectomy and was in no condition to drive to the store to buy one, I just made up some excuse about how the Elf had to come into the house before Thanksgiving or else we’d have to wait until the next year. And, since I was still taking pain killers after my surgery, remembering to move Elf on a Shelf just wasn’t an option.

In 2011, one year after my surgery, and every day leading up to Thanksgiving, the kids reminded me about Elf on a Shelf.

I drove to the store located in our very ethnically diverse city, and checked out all the Elfs in the boxes. My first thought? “Oh, those are going to break with my 2 year old in the house!” My second thought? “Where are the brown Elfs?”

Now, for some of my Marathon B4 Mastectomy readers, though my blog has been mostly about cancer, disability, and health issues, I also am an individual who is committed to social justice, inclusion, and diversity education. My family and I (which includes young children), have open dialogues about race, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, religion, disability, etc.

Back to Elfonso….

On the Elf on a Shelf box, there was a picture of an Elf with brown paint. I asked the sales person if she had any of THOSE out back, and she said, “No. We don’t carry that one.” (insert jaw dropping, particularly in our ethnically diverse city).

The only Elf with brown material they had was a stuffed one.

Now, I believe that most things happen for a good reason.

One good reason was that I ended up emailing the makers of the doll, and then the company that owns the store, to state my disappointment that they wouldn’t carry “that one”.

But, there were many good things that came out of my purchase:

1. Stuffed Elf was $9,99 vs Ceramic Elf which was $30+

2. Stuffed Elf has been squished, squashed, and thrown in the wash

3. Stuffed Elf is easy to throw into my jacket pocket when we travel during the Thanksgiving-Christmas time

4. Stuffed Elf gets to hang out all year (which just serves as a reminder to put him out on Thanksgiving) in the stuffed animal bin

But, the best reason for having Elfonso IS that he is brown. After all, if the story of Santa and his elves is (spoiler alert) mythical, then why can’t Elfonso be brown? The story of Santa is a collection of lots of different stories that occur around the globe — stories of kindness, generosity, giving and magic.

Folks usually ask me, “How do I expose my kids to diversity?” It’s easy — incorporate it in every day life.

If you were to ask my kids to draw Santa, they would draw a white man with a white beard and a red outfit. And, that’s just fine. However, they have also heard about this same character in stories across the globe, in other cultures, and for other kids in other countries!

The more we can broaden their ideas, the more likely we are to raise the next generation of people who believe that there is more than one way to think, that there is more than one way to look, and that we are all part of a story of love, giving, kindness, and wonder.

Now, if I could only remember to move the Elf more often ….

Peace, love, and practicing inclusion,
Liza

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One Response to Practicing Inclusion

  1. I can totally relate in wanting an ethnic elf. At this point, there’s just a brown-eyed elf and a blue-eyed elf. Or you can get a boy or girl elf. But none with darker skin or almond-shaped eyes. In our case, the blue-eyed elf worked since my middle son has blue eyes, but still I would have liked an Asian elf. Great to meet you from the blog hop.

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