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John Lamb, Published December 11 2012

Lamb: Shelve the elf

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a number of parents talk – and seen even more post – about their Elf on a Shelf.

What was surprising was not the kids’ reaction to the ever-watching elf, but rather the faith parents put into it.

For those who don’t have young kids right now, “The Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon has snowballed in popularity over the past decade. As the story goes, orphaned elves are awakened from hibernation once the popular “Elf on the Shelf” book is read in the home of the adoptive family. The elf is then named and registered online.

Hiding in various vantage points around the home, the elf acts as the eyes and ears of Santa Claus, flying back to the North Pole nightly to report the day’s activities and who has been naughty and nice. Come Christmas, the elf goes back to the North Pole for the next 11 months, presumably for reconnaissance training.

So, basically parents retain the services of Santa’s snitch, giving him or her (she can accessorize with a pink skirt!) full access to the abode in the hope that this North Pole narc will scare kids straight?

I have some problems with this.

First, this is stealing jobs away from uncles. Why pay for an outsider to hang out in the corner of your home and pass judgment when your significant other’s deadbeat brother has been camped out on the couch eating pizza rolls and complaining about nothing to watch on TV? He too goes out every night and tells people how poorly your kids behaved before stumbling back home before the sun comes up.

But let’s say you’re not blessed with an ever-present uncle and you decide to go the elf route. Do you really know what you’re getting? In the dark of winter you’re letting in a small creature with supernatural powers from some foreign land where you don’t know the customs.

The toy’s literature reads, “These elves love to play hide-and-seek with their families.”

Doesn’t that sound just a little creepy? You know who else loves playing hide-and-seek? Charming psychopaths who torment their victims in horror movies.

Sure, that elf may look sweet, but so did the girl with pigtails in “Orphan.” Orphans are the new harbingers of evil and orphanages are fear factories – at least in films.

OK, maybe she didn’t look elvish, but you know who did? Macauley Culkin in “The Good Son,” and look how that ended. You definitely didn’t want to leave that kid home alone.

So do yourself a favor this holiday season. Don’t invest in job-stealing elves to intimidate your kids to behave. Instead, open your home, your fridge, your liquor cabinet and while you’re at it, unlock the parental controls on your cable box and internet, to a kindly uncle who will serve as a gloomy Ghost of Christmas Future, thus scaring your child straight. And likely making them never want to have kids of their own.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533