If you have a toddler, a preschooler, or a elementary-aged kid, chances are you have either heard of or own an Elf On the Shelf. (If you’ve never heard of this phenomenon, please click the link and prepare to be amazed.) To keep things brief, I’ll explain it this way: your child has their very own tiny felt elf, indued with magic powers of observation and flight, and this elf helps Santa keep track of whether or not your kid has been good or bad. Each night when your youngun goes off to dream of sugarplums (whatever those are), the elf flies to the North Pole to rat the child out.
I guess it depends on your kid, but my daughter, Ella, freaking LOVES her elf. His name is Eli.
He is creepy.
And not just because of his Orwellian nature. If you look closely at a picture of one of those things, you can see that its eyes are sort of dead, with a bizarre sheen to them. And the eyes are looking off to the elf’s right; never at you. There’s something suspicious about an elf that won’t look you in the eye. And the long slender body, with no discernible hands or feet (and no identifiable fingers or toes), seems built for the kind of creeping around your house that even the Tooth Fairy would find abhorrent.
Obviously, I don’t like the little fella.
Well, that’s not entirely true – he doesn’t bother me, really. The game of moving him around and hiding him for Ella and Jon to find each morning is kind of fun, and Ella’s imagination – how she gives him so much more life in her mind than is required – makes me marvel at my children and enjoy the season a little bit more.
I guess what I really don’t like is the design of the elf itself. Which is kind of pathetic. But hey – I’m weird.
I get that the elf doesn’t have to be spectacular looking; in fact, in a world where so much is overwrought design-wise, I suppose it’s almost charming how lacking in design the elf on our shelf really is. But honestly, it just bugs me to no end that the thing look likes the love-child of Howdy Doody and a Sock Monkey. I mean, at least they could’ve given the thing pants. Nobody has worn a solid red jumpsuit since Britney Spears.
Why exactly I’m confessing this is beyond me. I don’t know of anyone else who’s as bothered by the appearance of a once-a-year toy that spends the majority of its life hidden between the ficus and the just-purchased-and-already-half-dead-poinsettia. And like I said, my kids love the thing, the story is cute, and as a discipline tool it can’t be overrated.
Was I scarred as a kid by some 50′s era plushie? Is that why I have an aversion to this thing? Do I need a couple sessions on someone’s couch to recover some kind of repressed memory? I don’t know.
All I know is that right now, a tiny plastic and felt elf sits on a shelf in my living room and gives me the kind of heebie-jeebies Danny Torrance got when he discovered his two playmates at the Overlook Hotel. As a grown man, I can’t help but crack sarcastic and mean-spirited jokes about the thing to direct my attention away from just how much the sucker’s eyes creep me out. I think I need help.
Because obviously, I can’t help my elf. Uh, self.