When I first saw The Elf on the Shelf appear in stores a few years ago, I took it as a crass marketing scheme victimizing the thousands of people who each year have no idea what to get for a loved one, as well as taking advantage of lost families desperate for their own “tradition.”
The fact is, that the Elf on the Shelf is a completely made-up tradition foisted upon anyone dumb or desperate enough to buy it. The premise, after all, is nothing any loving parent, or even an authoritarian society, would come up with.
Those that buy the package (or receive it from a well-meaning clueless friend) find themselves with a hideous elf doll made out of cheap plastic, with pointed cheeks longer than its nose, and a cloying book. As far as I hear, the book informs the hapless children of the family upon whom this is foisted, that this elf will spy on them day and night and report back to Santa. According to a review on Amazon.com, you also get a video which has a song that goes:
“Elf on the Shelf is watching you,
what you say and what you do.
Elf on the Shelf is judging you,
each and every Christmas.”
And if you do behave, what do you get? Not love from your family, not admiration from your friends, not peace and goodwill to all mankind, but rather more stuff, like possibly another Elf on The Shelf to keep your first little Santa’s commissar company. The kids who properly fear the Elf on the Shelf are fated to become the hoarders of tomorrow, possibly with multiple elves on shelves, bought in the hope that they may distract one another from the hoarder’s sins.
I was hoping The Elf on the Shelf would disappear by now, but it continues to reappear like a bad rash, every Christmas season. The craven company that came up with this dreck is clearly hoping it really will take off as a “tradition” whereupon they can foist more Elf on the Shelf crap onto the hapless public, in the form of book sequels, holiday specials, elf houses, and whatever else they can manufacture cheaply and resell at a hefty profit.
As my friend Fred Tracey quipped, “in our day, I didn’t have elf on the shelf; I had dad on a barstool.” And wasn’t the world a better place with that older, real tradition, rather than some marketing scheme?