The Elf on the Shelf – A Christmas Tradition

A few years ago, we were given “The Elf On The Shelf”. It’s basically a book with a small stuffed elf in it, which explains by means of an included story that the elf has come to your house to check on your kids and report back to Santa regarding their behavior. Back in my day, they used to call this a “spy”.

But the kids love the spy. They named him “Bob”. So, starting in early December every year, Bob shows up somewhere in the house. Usually on a high shelf, where dogs can’t run off with him, or kids can’t touch him. Because you see, the legend explains that if Bob, or whatever your elf is named, is touched by a human…well, then his magic leaves him. Then he’s just a stuffed elf that doesn’t magically move on his own. Because until the elf is touched by a curious kid (Let’s be honest, if you told a kid that a button would destroy the world, he’d still press it) or had the stuffing eaten out of him by a clueless pet, he moves around every night and stakes out a different location in the house. I think the idea is that he wants to make sure he sees everything. And sometimes the kids fight over in the piano room. And sometimes they fight in the kitchen. And sometimes they fight in the bedrooms. Bob has to be able to see all of that. Santa, like a court of law, requires visual evidence. Not just some measly hearsay evidence. When Santa comes on Christmas Eve, Bob hops in with him and hangs at the North Pole until next December.

As wonderful as this friendly visitor and his story is, this occasionally presents a bit of a problem. Sometimes, when the wife and I are up late or are preoccupied with the latest PBS documentary or Stephen Hawking novel, well…the elf forgets to move to a new location. This is very distressing for my daughter. There are only so many good reasons that we can think up to explain why the elf didn’t move the previous night.

“That must have been a good spot!”

“He must have fallen asleep!”

“He must be stuck!”

Yes, we had to use the “stuck” excuse once. He was on the shelf, and he was wedged between the side of the shelf and a ceramic dolphin. So, we moved the dolphin away from the elf, careful not to touch him. But then we forgot about him and went to bed. And Bob still forgot to move. This prompted my daughter to write a letter to Santa to alert him to the fact that Bob was stuck and we didn’t want to touch him and ruin his magic. Well, Santa must have come and freed Bob once he got that letter. The mail service was quite efficient the night that she wrote that letter, let me tell you.

Also, this elf, or one like him, is often listed for sale in some store circulars. I hunt these down and immediately put them in the trash can outside when I find them. If discovered, that could be a major security breach. I mean, how magical could something be that you can get at Walmart? Besides a 6-pack of beer for $4, that is. Now that’s what I call magic!

Anyway…so now I set an alarm on my cell phone to remind Bob to move each night. The kids are still baffled by the movement, and are not sure if he’s moving or if “you guys have a ladder”. But the thing they really should be baffled by, is that Bob sees the things he does, and Santa still manages to bring any presents at all on Christmas .

“Bob is not a very smart elf.”

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