Elf On A What?

Last week at work, we were talking about the upcoming holiday season, and a couple of people referenced the new Christmas ‘tradition’—the Elf on a Shelf. This merry little fellow is a posable doll, dressed in a red and white elf costume, which can offer hours of fun for parents, and apparently hours of terror for children. Every morning, the child will get up and find the elf in a new position, having done something clever or naughty during the night. And during the day, there is the reminder that the elf is “watching over you” from somewhere in the house. This, from what I gathered, allows parents to apply leverage to their little ones ie: “You’d better behave—Marcel (or whatever name the parents give the tiny spy) is keeping an eye on you, and if you don’t stop poking your sister, he’ll tell Santa in his daily report!”

While this may sound cute and festive on the surface, it has really insidious undertones. Isn’t it bad enough that “Santa” already knows when you’ve been “bad or good”, sees you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re awake? At least Santa is at the North Pole, and might be too busy to constantly monitor whether or not you fed all your vegetables to the dog. But now, there’s a creeper in your own home, who stalks you every minute of the day and reports back to the Big Guy for even minor infractions like colouring outside the lines or drinking straight from the carton or whatever. And there are hundreds of websites devoted to sharing things that people can do with their elves (and quite a few are NOT very PG 13). I took a look at some of them and here are the more disturbing places that the Elf on a Shelf can be found:

1) In a Nativity Scene: These irreverent parents replaced the baby Jesus with their elf, named DJ. He towers over all the other figures like a jolly, stocking-capped god. The shepherds look terrified, and the Wise Men look pissed off, like “We came all this way for that?” Mary just looks confused.

2) Trussed up in a toilet paper roll, wrists tied together, and hanging from the shower curtain rod, having been gagged with what looks like his own collar. This might be the first clue that your parents don’t really like the Elf on a Shelf—or that they’re serial killers.

3) Lying in a drunken stupor on top of a picture frame, after having used black marker to draw devil horns and tails on a family portrait. What kind of behaviour are you trying to role model here? Satan worship or vandalism? And then you wonder why, ten years later, your teenager is playing records backwards and spray painting the neighbour’s fence with pentagrams.

4) Reading the Bible: Not that reading the Bible is disturbing, but it kind of sends a mixed message. Does God have elves or angels? Plus it adds another layer to the paranoia you’re creating in your child. Now the little tyke is being watched by the Elf, Santa, AND GOD. I would just lock myself in my room and never come out.

5) In the hot tub, with a couple of Barbie Dolls: He looks REALLY happy. Maybe because all the Barbies’ hands are under the cellophane water. “Daddy, what are all those ladies doing to Buddy?” “Don’t worry, honey—they’re just jingling his sleigh bells.”

There also seem to be a lot of pictures of the elf defacing walls with crayon, gorging on maple syrup and candy, writing on mirrors, squeezing out toothpaste all over the counter, pooping out Hershey’s Kisses, and writing messages in spilled hot chocolate powder, which makes me think that parents are having way more fun with the Elf than their kids are. Sure, sure, I know that kids get really excited about ANYTHING to do with Christmas, and probably get a kick out of the Elf to a certain extent, but it’s all just a little too Orwellian for me, like the Thought Police have invaded Christmastown. If we really want to draw an analogy to 1984, then Santa is Big Brother, the Elf on a shelf is O’Brien, your child is Winston Smith, and your house is the Ministry of Love (which sounds like a very nice place, but that’s where all the torture-y stuff happened, in case you never read the book). Do you really want your children to wake up Christmas morning chanting, “2+2=5”? Santa was always good enough for me, cuz I loved Big Brother.

Eventually we’ll just blend Hallowe’en, Black Friday, and Christmas all together into a new festival called “Overconsumption”, where adults wearing elf costumes fight to the death in a two-month long tournament to win candy, toys, flat screen TVs and vegetable steamers for their kids. Overall though, I guess if you want to do the Elf on the Shelf thing with your kids, play up the fun, and tone down the fascism. And the sex. That’s my advice.

(As a side note, I would never have an Elf, but I DO have “Sock Monkey in the Wine Frig”. His only job is to make sure no one steals my wine.)


63 thoughts on “Elf On A What?

  1. One of the bloggers I used to follow (Written by a woman from the perspective of her pet potbellied pig) used to have one of those elves on the shelf that would turn up every December and she’d always show pictures of him in scenes kinda like you just posted. The elf was creepy evil and terrorized the poor piggy. She even sent me my own elf, who has occasionally turned up in one of my Shelf Critter posts. I’m all for anything that terrorizes children and scares them straight… but the faddy/hipster nature of this phenomenon makes me dislike it on principle…

    Liked by 4 people

  2. This really needs to happen….Eventually we’ll just blend Hallowe’en, Black Friday, and Christmas all together into a new festival called “Overconsumption”, where adults wearing elf costumes fight to the death in a two-month long tournament to win candy, toys, flat screen TVs and vegetable steamers for their kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have a couple of friends who’ve been playing with elves around Christmas time. I agree that it looks like parents spend much more time on the whole elf thing, than the children. I thought about buying one to follow the trend, but I figured I was just too lazy and changed my mind at the last minute… You know, moving the elf every night, making up stories, cleaning up ”his” mess… Oh, and getting a kid! Way too much trouble… LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Suze says:

    my buddy Sam (the eight year old next door) took his “other grandma’s” elf outside, garroted it, decapitated it, then hung it upside down on a cross made of garden stakes….the head lying under the strung-up body. He said he did it because that “damned elf was a criminal and needed to be killed for the good of humans and dogs everywhere”. I couldn’t agree with him more actually.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Ugh – we’ve had that elf nonsense over here for a couple of years. Thankfully our 2 kids are way too old for that kind of thing. And what kind of message is this elf supposed to be giving?

    “Be good because Elfie is watching you.”

    “But mum, who’s watching HIM? The evil little tosser clearly gets up to all kinds of shite when we’re asleep. And you’re going to accept his word that we’ve been naughty or nice? He’s got the moral compass of a Brexit-fetish tabloid newspaper.”

    “Tsk. You lost the magic of Christmas the day you turned 13. I blame that Orwell chap.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The Elf on the Shelf has always been deeply disturbing to me. It’s even more creepy than Santa seeing you when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake. At least he’s just checking in. And his other elves are working hard making toys.
    The Shelf Elf though seems like a rogue agent. He’s that kid in class who took it upon himself to report every bad thing to the teacher. And as a teacher I wonder if those kids annoyed you.
    The real problem though is that with all the Elf’s been up to he could be easily bribed.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I must admit to doing this for a couple of years, though never anything as distrubing as many of these, but my oldest daughter hid the Elf on on us one day.

    “Now I want to see if it does really move,” She said this with a smile. She was five and had already declared Santa to be a myth.

    Needless to say, we never did find the Elf until it was too late. Her younger sister then also became a skeptic. LOL! 🙂 Probably for the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. science_girrrrrl says:

    We didn’t have elves!
    She was a rakshasi, the infant-killer and she tried to kill Krishna by breast-feding him with her poisoned breast milk but in the end because Krishna is soooo powerful she ends up dying anyway.
    So we were told that if we behaved badly Putana would come to kill us, which is frankly terrifying when you are seven years old and living in fear of a seven-foot-tall female demon who is pretending to be a loving, human mother but the only time when she shows her true seven-foot-tall form is when she is dying.
    That was a rant.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Authoress51 says:

    I never realized the true lessons of the Elf. I thought it was just something fun to mess up my house. I don’t have one nor do I have children. But, if I did, he would be here for enjoyment only. No sinister connotations.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am confused. An elf who is testing crayons on walls or creating in promptu artwork with toothpaste can actually scare a child that all his/her bad behavior will get reported back to Santa? And it does not occur to the child to write to Santa about the exemplery behavior of the elf? How can that be? The parents are also drugging their children or what?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “Overconsumption”! Holy crap, did you hit the nail on the head with that! (That’s extra true here in the States, where we are barely finished recovering from Thanksgiving when the merry-making of Christmas commences!)

    On the subject of North Pole spies, I once had the following actual conversation with a kid:

    “You know how Santa knows when you’ve been bad or good?” the child asked.

    “Uh-huh,” I replied, my interest piqued.

    “Is that, like, privileged information, or can he share it with a parent or guardian?”

    Merry Christmas, Suzanne — or whatever you may celebrate! Celebrate big! You wrote and published a book, after all! I hear a lot of people talking about doing that, but I see comparably few actually pulling it off!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Funny & creepy are always an interesting combo. My father was from Barcelona, home of “Caganer” – “Pooper” – who reminds us that we all poop! His pooping beret-wearing likeness is traditionally added to xmas scenery…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Nobody messes with the Sock Monkey!

    My friends from the pharmacy (yes, I have pharmacy friends) have been playing with that elf thing, and his opioids, for years. In fact, I think they named the little degenerate “Opi,” or something similar. It’s a shame what happens to elven addicts.

    When I was young my favorite elf was the half-one in my D&D game. My brother favored the dark elves.

    Speaking of dark, how about we sick my friend’s uncle to go all “barbie” on the shelf fella and see what can be done to put the spirit back into Christmas this year. Fire up that grill!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There are some pretty original ideas for Elf on a Shelf flying around social media – I’ve gotten a kick out of them.. We have our own version who we’ve affectionately name Reuben and Remnar – our Halloween skeletons that have decided to hang around for the holidays.. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

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