Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Elves are Watching
Jennifer Flaten

Zipping through Target last week, in search of one last gift for my son, I passed the sporting goods section. I was on my way to the toy section and attempted, unsuccessfully, to suppress a derisive snort when I spotted the black and white Mossimo bicycle. It was still on display.

Ha! Good luck selling that in December, in Wisconsin, although, it’s been unseasonable warm. Maybe someone will get a rolling zebra under his or her tree for Christmas. After perusing the cornucopia of toys for those possessing the X chromosomes, which all involved lasers, robots or robots equipped with lasers, I made my escape clutching something with many tiny pieces and requiring more batteries than the Mars rover.

Heading to the checkout, I detoured through the book section. Who can resist books, especially hardcovers with a 20% off sticker? Not me, that’s for sure. In the Children’s section, I noticed the Elf on the Shelf. Actually, there were a great many Elves on the shelf.

For those of you with no children or interest in odd holiday customs, the Elf on the Shelf is a book and doll combo that is supposed to encourage belief in Santa. This, in turn, is supposed to increase the likelihood your child will engage in good behaviour. It’s another myth; if it was only so easy, I could dispense with the duct tape.

You read the book to your child. Then you put the Elf somewhere, preferably a shelf, the Elf “observes” the kids behaviour. Each night he or she reports to Santa; it’s Orwellian.

The trick is you have to remember to move the darn Elf to a new location each night. This is where the “magic” part of the equation happens. Orwell didn’t think this part through, well enough.  

I remembered hearing about the Elf and Shelf phenomenon a couple of years ago. It sounded cute, but, as you know, I am too frugal to spend money on something like that. More to the point, I am also too lazy to move the thing every night.

Besides, knowing my kids our Elf would end up resigning his post as kid watcher and end up shooting up the place with a bunch of robots with lasers.  We never had the Elf. I really didn’t give it more than a passing thought, until a few days later when I noticed several people mentioning it on various social media sites.

Keep in mind the Elf is just a fun little thing to do with your kid, just like St. Nick’s stocking or an Advent calendar, we do both. It shouldn’t whip people into froth, but it apparently does.

Many of the posts considered it creepy to have the Elf “spying” on the kid. Uh, newsflash it’s make-believe. There is no real spying involved, unless most of these kids eventually apply to the CIA.

In addition, an argument is possible that believing in, insert deity of your choice here, and telling your children that so-and-so is watching them is quite similar to the Elf on the Shelf. Still, no one finds that excessively creepy. Besides, no matter what you believe deity wise, if you celebrate Christmas and have children at some point you’ve reminded them, some more often than others, how Santa is watching.

We even have a song about it, and let’s face it the line “He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when your awake” is much creepier than any Elf. Not that it makes a darn bit of difference, much like a deathbed confession Santa pretty much wipes the slate clean for each kid come Christmas Eve. Short of setting the cat on fire, actually, that’s a bad example,-f you must know, it involved a candle and was entirely accidental, every kid gets something at Christmas, no Elf required.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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