Staff Opinion: Three life lessons Buddy the Elf taught me

By Molly Lowney | December 13, 2018 1:05pm

Molly Lowney is a photographer for The Beacon.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Every year during the holiday season, my family would watch the 25 Days of Christmas holiday specials on ABC Family. Movies like "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" and "The Year Without a Santa Claus" have made themselves permanent in my memory. (I can belt the entire Heat Miser/Snow Miser musical number like nobody’s business.) But there is one movie that has changed me more than all the rest, a movie that came out 15 years ago and is arguably one of the funniest movies I have ever seen: "Elf." 

Buddy the Elf is my Christmas role model and has changed my perspective on the holiday season overall. I think "Elf" is such a great movie because it makes you laugh, cry, cry while laughing, question your eating habits and remember at the end what the spirit of the season is about. Without further ado, here are three life lessons that Buddy the Elf taught me:   

1. Don’t be a cotton headed ninny muggins. 

Christmas is an awesome holiday, but for so many people it’s a really stressful time. In the midst of one of the busiest academic times of the year I often forget to feel the joy of the season. Buddy teaches me to be committed to joy even in the darkest of times. While some people let stress control the narrative of their Christmas, Buddy chooses to be happy and spread that joy to others so they could enjoy the season too. Every time I watch "Elf" I’m reminded that I need to pull myself out of the deep dark hole of stress and just let myself overflow with the spirit of the season. 

2. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

"I'm in a store and I'm singing!" Buddy doesn’t care about the judgment of other people. Buddy shows his Christmas cheer in a radical way. He decorates entire department stores, builds a piano and makes a meal of spaghetti and syrup. Buddy owns who he is and doesn’t let other people dampen his Christmas spirit in any way. He teaches me to not let others have power over my joy, to let myself be fully present in the season to not be embarrassed of who I am. 

3. Embrace the awkward. "I just like to smile; smiling's my favorite."

There are several awkward moments in "Elf," like the shower scene for instance. Buddy isn’t fazed by his awkward encounters, in fact, he embraces them and moves on. I’m a magnet for awkward silence, so when I see Buddy handle such uncomfortable situations in "Elf," I cringe in shock, horror and fascination. Buddy is sure of who he is and what he believes, so when he hits an awkward obstacle, he doesn’t lose himself in the discomfort of it all. Instead, he will apologize and move forward or move on, like when he candidly writes to his family: "I'm sorry I ruined your lives and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR."

"Elf" is a movie that reminds me every year to spread joy to everyone I can, never give up on family and own my beliefs during the holiday season. Buddy is in no way normal, but "Elf" shows that normal typically is overrated. 

Molly Lowney is a photographer for The Beacon. She can be reached at