I don’t know how something as weird and creepy as this has passed me by for so many holiday seasons, but I just this afternoon learned about the world of Elf on the Shelf and it’s awesomely strange.
It all revolves around a story created in 2004 by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell over a cup of tea. Bell suggested they write a book about their own family tradition of an elf sent from Santa who came to watch over them at Christmas time. Aebersold’s other daughter, Christa Pitts, was recruited by the family to share her expertise in sales and marketing. Together, the trio devoted the next three years promoting their self-published book and attending book signings and trade shows.
The book was a huge hit, there’s even been a 30-min animated TV special around the theme (which was apparently quite awful) and you can now get “elves” in different colors and genders.
Which is good, because the whole concept is darn bizarre. The idea is that the elf has been sent down from the North Pole by Santa to report on whether children are being naughty or nice. Every night they report back to The Boss and move to another location in the house. It’s not enough that Santa “knows if you’ve been good or bad” now he has little field agents like the Hitler Youth reporting on those disloyal German families back in WWII. Heil Santa!
That’s about how seriously most people seem to take it, actually, and it’s absolutely hilarious to do a Google Image search for “elf on the shelf creepy” or “sexy” or “evil”, because it’s clear I’m not the only parent who finds the idea, well, really bizarre.
Here are a few of the ones I thought were the most amusing:
That’s fairly tame next to this photo:
There are greeting cards with these twisted Elf themes available too, which is no surprise.
And then there’s the group of Elf fans who figure he might not be evil, just randy…
Need an Elf-themed present for Grandma?
The strange folk on the Internet have you covered for that too:
Truth be told, I think this is awesome. I am really tempted to get one of these little elves just so I can contribute to the mayhem.
Then again, what if Santa is watching me? I mean, who watches the watchers???