Elf on the Shelf

Our actual Elf:  Elfie

Our actual Elf: Elfie

Two years ago, what began as an innocent and ordinary November day, became the moment when a new and demonic holiday tradition was added to our household.  I speak of “Elf on the Shelf.”  For those not in the know, “Elf on the Shelf” is a fiendishly clever marketing campaign designed to (A.) steal more money from my wallet for unnecessary crap and (B.) add to my parenting stress-level – who wants to be the mom without one?

I clearly remember that day… as we stopped by a friend’s house for a play date.  I had never heard of this elf business, but this family had one and the tradition was explained to my daughter like this:  the elf is Santa’s Helper who watches you all day and night and reports back to Santa whether you’ve been naughty or nice.  While you’re not looking, it moves about the house playing hide and seek and getting into the Christmas cookies… sounds like a plot from a Chucky movie, if you ask me… one of the most terrifying fears of my childhood was that my toys would come alive and kill me.  It is a classic horror theme… anyone ever seen that Twilight Zone episode called “Talky Tina” where the possessed doll threatens to kill Telly Savalas?  “I’m Talky Tina and you’d better be nice to me.”  Thirty years later and I still can’t get that out of my head.

So, my sweet baby girl said to me on that awful day, “why don’t I have an elf at my house?”  One quick stop at Books-a-Million on our way home, and $30 later, we were now the proud owners of our own magic elf.  The tradition states that you must give your elf a “special name” for the magic to kick in.  My child creatively came up with the name “Elfie.”  You can’t accuse us of over-thinking it.

So now, as if worrying about sleeping through Tooth Fairy duties, forgetting to hide the Easter eggs, not being able to find chocolate coins for the leprechaun to accidentally drop from his pockets, or failing to eat Santa’s cookies is not enough… I have to worry about Elfie’s appearance every November, move it around the house multiple times a day, and then hide it where it can’t be found for another year.

As much as the little creature annoys me, I stand in awe of the cleverness of the million dollar business it has become.  In 2005, a mom and daughter team self-published the book after being turned down by multiple legitimate publishers and got rich bitch.  The sheer genius of using our children and peer pressure to guilt us parents into participating in their nefarious scheme is remarkable.  It spreads like a virus.  Once one kid has one, they all have to have one, and are YOU going to be the parent that breaks your child’s heart?

And every child who doesn’t have one is begging for it on a daily basis.  I truly admire the parents who stay strong and refuse to join the fray, but I won’t be one of them.  My daughter wants a creepy, cock-eyed Elf sneaking about the house, playing peek-a-boo with the dog; she is damn well going to have one.

Besides the pick-pocketing aspect of the whole thing, I also resent being inexorably pulled into more lies.  I “do” Santa because it is one of the fondest memories of my childhood – it helped off-set the fear that I was going to be murdered in my sleep by a Teddy Bear – and I would have never wanted to deprive her of that, yet I do feel a little guilty about lying to her – the only time I ever have… and as she gets older, I deliberately choose to not perpetuate Santa any more than absolutely necessary.  I keep it going, but I don’t pay someone to slide down our chimney.  I literally DREAD the day she knows it was all a lie and was me all along… dread it, I tell you… and now I am forced to ACTIVELY participate in lying to her in a way I never really had to with Santa… Kris Kringle comes one night a year and it’s over and done.  But NOW, Elfie is here for a MONTH and every single day, sometimes several times a day, I am forced to move him around the house, and then exclaim in amazement when my daughter finds him.  I literally have to struggle not to roll my eyes.

This isn’t the worst thing I’ve been forced to do since becoming a parent.  This isn’t even the dumbest piece of crap I’ve bought because my daughter wanted it.  And if it makes her happy, I’m all for it.  I mean, isn’t that why we do any of the painful and humiliating shit we do?  Why we pin our eyelids open to stay awake long enough to set the Easter Basket out, or shoot awake like a rocket at 5 a.m. because we accidentally fell asleep and almost forgot to put money under the pillow, or pull a groin muscle, leaping across the room in slow motion like something out of the Matrix trying to get Elfie to a new spot before getting caught?

I just hope someday, she appreciates it.  And forgives me for the lies.  I’ll just have to remember to tell her it was all HER idea.

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About reneadijab

Renea Dijab

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