At the risk of angering and alienating some of my readers, I am just going to come out and say what’s been on my mind these past two Christmases: I hate Elf on the Shelf. I really do. For those of you unfamiliar with this creepy thing, I’m including a picture.
I don’t know what the “rules” are, but apparently, parents hide him (and this year I’ve noticed a “her”) each night somewhere in the house, putting him into positions where he’s getting into some sort of mischief. The children wake up to find him doing something naughty like stealing cookies from the jar or making a mess of the toilet paper, etc. The mischievousness alone is enough for me to dislike him! Santa wants us to be good all year, and here’s a representative for him doing everything any child wants to do, but refrains from doing in order to get a gift from Santa. Talk about a bad role model.
Furthermore, Elf on a Shelf is practically sold everywhere! It’s definitely at Target prominently sitting in its little red box at the checkout line. This little elf is supposed to be magical, and I assume, sent from Santa. Any kid who’s not blind can see that the elf can be purchased at the store, so when it magically shows up one morning in their house, isn’t it pretty obvious that Mommy or Daddy bought an elf?! Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe it’s marketed to explain why a poor, ill-behaved elf is packaged in a box to be brought home during the Christmas season. But if not, way to raise suspicions and doubts over the reality of Santa, parents!
However, my primary reason for hating Elf on a Shelf is because my parents (Santa) did something very similar, but way more awesome, when I was a kid! I present to you, The Elf Bear!!
See how cute he is in his little elf outfit? And in case you didn’t notice, those are bulb ornaments by his head, so he’s tiny; just my style! In any case, the tradition went thusly: We’d buy a Christmas tree and decorate it. The following morning, we’d wake up to find The Elf Bear sitting in the top branches of our tree! Santa sent him to watch over us during the day to make sure we were behaving, and he’d report our activities to Santa at night, where he’d choose a new place in the house to hide. His hiding places were always amazing! He’d defeat gravity by chilling in the upper ceiling corner of the living room, or remaining precariously seated atop a thin picture frame hung high on the wall. That little dude just exuded magic!! Plus, he kept my brothers and me in check.
I can’t tell you how many times in my childhood I’d be pounding on my brothers, only to notice The Elf Bear staring down at me, stopping my fists in mid-air. And conversely, by taunting my brothers, then running into the room that The Elf Bear was residing, I was spared many a bruise, as they didn’t dare sock me in front of him. I’ve gotta hand it to my parents. It was a brilliant way to keep us somewhat peaceful, while adding to the magic of Christmastime.
Santa left us one rule to The Elf Bear. We were not to touch him, or he’d disappear. (Smart move, Mom and Dad; I’m sure it took some mighty MacGyverying to get him in those crazy locations, and one touch might have brought him crashing down.) In any case, one day when I was older and becoming more curious, I noticed The Elf Bear in a location that could be reached if I stood atop the piano bench. I was a sucker for teddy bears and tiny things, and he looked so soft, that I just wanted to give him a quick pet on his little nosey. I knew that touching him would risk his disappearance, but I felt it would be worth it. Who cared if my brothers missed out on seeing him everyday? So, I stood on the bench, reached my arm and pointer finger over, and felt the softest bear fur anyone could ever have the pleasure of feeling! And to make it even better, he didn’t disappear! I knew I had done wrong, and worried everyday that Santa wouldn’t bring me a gift, but sure enough, I got everything I wanted on Christmas Day! I figured it was due to me profusely apologizing to The Elf Bear each day until Christmas, and so I never tested that luck again.
When my brothers and I got older, and the magic of Santa was dead, I confessed to them that I had once touched The Elf Bear. They were appalled! Like, literally, very upset that I had broken the rule. (And they expressed this anger by mockingly, yet still somewhat painfully, beating me up while chanting, “She touched The Elf Bear!”) I, on the other hand, was shocked that they had never tried it themselves. I considered myself the goody-goody of the bunch, but apparently, I crossed the line that should never be crossed.
So anyway, in comparison to my family’s elf, and for all the aforementioned reasons, I truly despise The Elf on the Shelf. I’m sure many kids are getting quite the enjoyment out of seeing its frightening smile each morning, but I for one, am glad my parents gave my brothers and me something much more special. Thanks, Mommy and Daddy!