Hump Day: Elf on the Shelf — A fun game or Santa’s silent spy?

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Over the past few years, a strange new Christmas tradition has taken hold of families.

Every day, parents place the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ at different places around the house. The kids then play a little game to find out where the elf is hidden to watch to see if they’ve been naughty or nice for Santa.

From the official Elf on the Shelf website: “The Elf on the Shelf is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.”

Kids aren’t allowed to touch the elf because it will lose some of its Christmas magic and be unable to fly back to the North Pole. It also doesn’t move or speak. It just sits there… and listens. And stares at you from the end of November until Christmas Eve when he travels back to the North Pole to spill the beans to Santa Claus in what must be the largest debriefing session in the world.

Elf on the ShelfI’ve seen many friends on Facebook talk about Elf on the Shelf. Their children seem to enjoy it – and I guess it’s another way of keeping them in line over the holidays when “Santa’s watching!” can be a particularly powerful way to motivate good behaviour. Unfortunately, little Billy goes back to playing with matches by Boxing Day and little Stephanie goes back to sticking forks in electrical outlets. “Honey, when did Stephanie get curly hair?”

I’m sure many families have lots of fun with Elf on a Shelf. Of course, there are many parodies and photos of Elf on a Shelf doing bad things — things that belong in an adult movie. What has started out as an innocent way to have some holiday fun with the kids has also branched out into the inevitably wicked — yet hilarious.

Inevitable or not, I think those buggers are just plain terrifying. That creepy little smiling elf who just sits there quietly staring at you. Close your eyes for a few minutes of rest and you’re bound to wake up with that freak sitting on your chest holding a knife.

Never trust a creepy doll that never blinks and doesn’t stop smiling. Quite frankly, they remind me of the Chucky doll from those Halloween horror movies. If you’re not familiar with Chucky, just imagine a cute little doll brought into the house as a gift who then proceeds to murder the entire family. Oh, how pleasant.

And now we have Chucky’s cousin Elf on a Shelf who’s taking over Christmas. I tell you, if I woke up one morning to find that thing staring at me, it would be meeting the back of a shovel pretty fast.

To me, it’s also right up there with that awful Snuggles fabric softener bear – the one who leaps out of your dirty laundry basket when you’re in your basement laundry room all alone. Sure, it just wants to talk about making your clothes smell good (or so it says), but I don’t care what it wants to talk about. Shovel to the head and then thrown in the blue bag for the city garbage people to pick up.

Can you imagine anything scarier? Sorting through your dirty underwear only to find some stuffed animal come alive to discuss how soft your clothes will be after using his brand of fabric softener? Uhm, no. If a teddy bear starts talking to me, I’d better be either on really good painkillers or sitting on the floor next to an empty bottle of gin because that would mean I’m hallucinating. Otherwise, it’s real. And if it’s real… and if I’m sober… it’s going to have an intimate encounter with the back of my shovel.

Same goes for Elf on a Shelf. I mean, really! What a squealer! He just sits there staring at everyone quietly throughout the day and then flies to report everything to Santa every night. Lord help little Billy if he forgets to flush — and good luck on Christmas morning to little Stephanie if she doesn’t eat all her peas at supper on Dec. 20… because that little jerk will be taking note of everything and squawking like a double agent.

Do Mom and Dad say he’s your friend? Full of magic? Don’t believe them, kids! The sneaky little elf is spying on you! Flush it down the toilet now! Don’t give in to its tyranny! Free at last… free at last… thank God almighty… free at last!

Now, kids, you just tell Mom and Dad that your nice Uncle Brian told you that Elf on a Shelf is a communist plot to get kids used to being spied on the by the state. Trust me, little Billy and little Stephanie, today it’s Elf on Shelf sitting next to your toaster. It’s all cute now, but it won’t be so funny in 20 years when it’s about microphones hidden in the lamp shade to hear everything going on in your house.

When I was a kid — in addition to walking to school uphill both ways on Christmas morning naked in 10 feet of snow — we didn’t have an Elf on the Shelf to keep us in line. We had stern looks and threats that Santa would skip our house if we weren’t good. It’s time for parents to start parenting again and stop blaming everything on that traitor elf. Bring back parental intimidation just like we had in the olden days. Now that’s what Christmas is all about!

Since this is my last column before Christmas and my last column of 2013, I want to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay safe and healthy and see you in 2014.

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