Reality of the Dreaded Elf on the Shelf


Elf on the Shelf.

The phrase that strikes dread into the hearts of so many, while eliciting utter glee from others (of a much younger age). You know the type.

Regardless, this past decade transformed December into an elfin pictorial bonanza where we’re either bombarded by daily pics of insane creativity and waiflike mischief or pleas for a Facebook blocker. (The latter of which has become it’s own sport of griping.)

I regret to inform the populace that we are not a fay family. I’m just not that creative.

“That’s what Pinterest is for!” the crafty mamas will tell you.

“That’s why Pinterest Fail websites exist,” I’d reply. Let’s use our imagination.

Elf Day 1

Exhibit A: Marked notice of return around the freshly lit Christmas tree.

First and foremost, who puts a tree up that soon? The day after Thanksgiving is the earliest appropriate time for the Christmas season to arrive. For me, that’s when I start thinking it would probably be ok to put up seasonal décor.

But most likely, the annual conversation in the Stream household would occur once more. “Honey, do you think the tree is listing?” Followed this time by a newly established Elf on the Shelf tradition of, “TIMBER! Oh shit! Catch the breakable ornaments!”

Adults would pick up the fallen elf (yes, read into the religious pun here), thus causing an absolute meltdown by the tiny peeps. “DON’T TOUCH THE ELF!” And this is only Day 1. Let the Christmas season commence.

Exhibit B: Graffiti-d produce cleverly replicating characters from a popular movie.

Exhibit B: Graffiti-d produce cleverly replicating characters from a popular movie.

The Stream-stead already has issues with a canine preference for botanical berries (and spatulas). Also, I cannot draw. The muppets would have awoken to a mashed scene from Dexter meets Frankenstein in the Silence of the Lambs – skins of the fruit marked by teeth and artistic errors.

But as the dog must leap up to retrieve his contraband bunches, Elfie would go down too. Merry Christmas! Your connection to Santa has been drooled upon and slightly chewed. Hey – he will sound like a Minion now; fangs have pieced his voice box.

Bad elf bread for breakfast? (Looks like Santa’s bringing money for the therapy fund.)

Exhibit C: Homemade confectionery fashioned from Cheerios.

Exhibit C: Homemade confectionery fashioned from Cheerios.

While the bananas may be a preferred treat, it turns out man’s best friend is in it for the snacks.

After walking away from the freshly frosted breakfast cereal, which lets face it would more likely have been Frosted Flakes as I’d clearly have opted for the pre-packaged version over DIY, Scout the dog would have taken it upon himself to remember to move the grinning sprite (and accompanying treats).

The boys would awaken to find a soggy and shivering Elfie in the backyard, red suit torn asunder, and body lying bedraggled in the gutter between grass and patio – a cacophony of white powdered (sugar) lines denoting the previous evening’s shenanigans and debauchery. (Looks like Santa’s bringing bail money.)

Exhibit D: Freshly showered and finding solace from the California heat among condiments.

Exhibit D: Freshly showered and finding solace from the California heat among condiments.

The elf would never be found. Who uses that stuff more than once a year? The condiments shelf is where you may even find Marshmallow Fluff circa 1988. Also – does ranch dressing *really* go bad?

More than likely someone would accidently pick our elf up and decapitate him to find out the sauce’s secret. (Looks like Santa’s bringing fresh non-expired ketchup for everyone. That *is* ketchup right…)

Elf Day 15

Exhibit F: Bullseye!

(I skipped E like school report cards.) Really, how much can the elf weigh? That dartboard precariously affixed to the wall with the unwavering power of a pushpin as sole defender against gravity. Obviously I would avoid the logical step of placing the darts in the center of the board and attempt to toss them from afar – a wall adorned with pockmarks and scuffs is far more festive, anyway.

Anticipation is overrated. Children would not have to wait till morning to search for their seasonal friend. The booming clatter and crash reverberating through hallway walls would send four-legged friends scurrying under the nearest bed while kids sprang from their beds to see what was the matter. To the living room they’d fly like a flash, only to find me shamefacedly holding Elfie aloft by his sash. (Looks like Santa’s bringing caulk and drywall.)

Of course there’s no reason to force yourself into unfound creativity. Simply move the elf every day to a different shelf. Or is that a common sense idea that sends both sides of the debate into flurries of red and green glittery duels?

Meh, instead of the elf our family has a cardboard box from Trader Joe’s with tiny chocolates, which are impossible to extract from their plastic prison, for every day leading up to the holiday.

Ultimately, we all need to chill out. (Chocolate helps.)

Social media exists precisely for the populace to feature the snippets of life we choose to share; it is the highly filtered highlight reel of life. (Seriously – how else could this blog exist?)

The Elf on the Shelf is essentially an interactive advent calendar.

Some characters bring presents; some bring adventures. I suspect some even provide a little stress relief and humor for the parents posing him. (I’m looking at you Frozen Elf whose family adults couldn’t take one more rendition of whatever Christmas carol was on repeat.)

Frozen Elf on the Shelf

To a kid growing up in a world where their every move is tweeted, Facebooked, and blogged – where our primary first-world concern is Wi-Fi signal strength – what’s not to love about a daily hide and seek adventure.

Creepy you say? How is this any more so than the concept of fat man living half a world away who knows everything about you – knows when you’ve been sleeping, knows when you’ve been awake? Which one sounds more big brother to you?

OMG – Santa does exist! He’s the entity of the NSA, right? (I’ll wait while you process that one.) At least you can plead your case to the elf, who is likely causing just as much mischief.

To those who say, “It’s not a tradition because it’s a toy that came out only 10 years ago” – you’ve got to start somewhere. And really, a tradition is whatever memories you make for the years to come.

When my kids ask why we never had an elf, I won’t tell them because I was uncreative or lazy. I’ll simply say – did you really want daily reports going to Santa? After all, we’re big on the tradition of, “HEY! STOP ANTAGONIZING YOUR BROTHER!”

Hey look – I can be creative.

In the end, remember

All this has happened before, and it will all happen again. But this time it happened in [your Facebook feed]. It happened on a quiet street. And [Elfie] chose this particular house because there were people here who believed in him.”
– Peter Pan (1953)

Whether second star to the right and straight on till morning, a Polar Express train to the North Pole, or that third blinking light you can’t seem to solve on the tree – let the magic live wherever it can.

In the meantime, I shall enjoy the images shared by those who are far more successful.


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