I’m not a parent yet, but
I spend my life with people just peeking their heads out of childhood. I
understand wanting them to behave. I approve of threats. I adore bribery. But
there is a line, a line which when crossed surpasses the mere desire for
well-behaved children and enters into the territory of creepy conspiracies.
That line is the Elf on the Shelf.
Until recently I had
never heard of this ‘holiday tradition,’ read that: strange parenting
technique. To those who have yet to be disturbed, I mean informed, according to
the official site, elves on the shelves “are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus.
Although they cannot be touched, or else they may lose their magic, the elf
will always listen and relay messages back to Santa. Taking in all the
day-to-day activities around the house, no good deed goes unnoticed; these
scout elves take their job seriously.” In other words, in case Christmas carol
threats of “you better watch out” because “he knows when you are sleeping”
weren’t enough to terrorize children into behaving before the holidays, now
there are scout elves to snitch nightly to the big jolly man up north.
Though I guess some
families have had big brother, or little elf, spying on them for years, the
tradition spread like a bad rash after some crazy mother-daughter team
self-published a book and gift box combo in 2005. (Gee, I wonder why no
publishing agency wanted anything to do with a peeping Elf toy meant to spy on
innocent children?) To give the team credit, they thought of everything,
including a website with an adoption registry and an explanation of how the elf
has managed his time in the package:
tradition begins when Santa sends his scout elves out to Elf Adoption Centers.
Waiting for their families to bring them home, these patient elves hibernate
until their family reads The Elf on the Shelf, gives their elf a very special name, and
registers their adoption online.
(source, because I couldn’t make this crap up if I tried,
Because every kid dumb
enough to believe in a magical, plastic, flying, spying elf will be real
worried about how said elf spent his time while in the box, right?
Now there are websites,
blogs, and Pinterest boards dedicated to the proper and the inappropriate use
of Santa’s creepy little agents.
Hiding elf in the bathroom
with potty training messages on the toilet seat, approved.
Having elf leave behind
some nasty number twos, dirty.
Well, it’s good to know
adults aren’t taking their adopted elves too seriously.
But these aren’t meant for
adults, right? Well, let’s see who benefits from them. Mom can now go make
dinner in peace while the kids play in the living room, because Elf on the
Shelf is there to baby-sit. Who better to watch the kids than someone who can
ruin Christmas without ever saying a word? Dad no longer needs to hide the
letters to Santa, because messages are magically relayed to the North Pole. How
eco-friendly. And no one needs to confess who broke the glass ornament, because
the Elf knows all, and the culprit will pay come Christmas morning. Cue evil
I’d call it ingenious if
it weren’t just a little bit creepy. But it is. Besides, if you want your kids
to behave because they believe omniscient beings are watching and judging their
every move, just raise them Catholic. It’s free and lasts all year. If you want
your kids, instead, to grow up without an irrational fear of little people or
big ears, do us all a favor and hide the elf. Then go be naughty!
All photos from Pinterest, taken and posted by people with far too much time on their hands, found by someone just as bad.