The elf couldn’t make it to the shelf this year; he’s serving a life sentence in the closet

This Elf on the Shelf is becoming quite a widespread Christmas tradition it seems. There’s nothing wrong with that; not all traditions have to be old. I wish the best to all the elves on shelves and those who abide by them.

We have an Elf on the Shelf too, but our elf isn’t on the shelf, and never has been. Our elf has spent his entire three-year sojourn with us securely stuffed into his box, beneath a pile of other heavy boxes. Our elf is sealed in his cardboard tomb, where all puppets susceptible to springing to life at any moment belong.

Our elf was given to us by some kind people who hoped that we would enjoy the tradition as much as their family did. We knew nothing of the tradition, but when we learned that this nosey little troll would be watching all of our comings and goings from his seemingly innocent perch on the mantel, my wife and I shook our heads at each other.

We both imagined a scene like this:

WIFE: I see you set the elf on top of the book case last night.

ME: I didn’t touch any elf.

WIFE: Oh, I guess the boy must have left him there.

ME: The boy can’t reach the top of the book case.

Cue scary music. . .

Elf on shelf marketing

At significant risk to my own safety, I dug the box out of the closet to provide illustration to those who may be unfamiliar with this nefarious plot Christmas tradition.

If there is one thing Hollywood has proven to us, it is that magic little dolls always turn out to be evil. They chase you around and stab you with sharp things until you toss them into the oven for one hour at 450 degrees. And even then, you’ve got a hot mess of evil spirit taking up all your baking space next time you need to roast a turkey.

Of course, we could not tell the generous givers that their gift elf would never see the light of day in our house; that would be rude. So we thanked them like the polite people we are on the surface and proceeded to pile heavy objects onto the lid of that little devil’s coffin.

Elf with breathing hole

If he were never intended to spring to life, why did his creators make sure there was a breathing hole in his holding cell?

Maybe it’s just me. Does anyone else think it’s kind of creepy having a doll follow your children around the house, spying on them? When I was a kid, Santa didn’t need quisling helpers, ratting out children at every turn. Santa knew if you were bad or good. He just knew. That’s why I’m suspicious. I have my doubts that these so-called elves have any connection to Santa at all.

And even if Santa is getting up there in years, and does need help monitoring my naughty children, he’s got me. I’m forever threatening to tattle to Santa the boy’s every transgression. And I’m only 40% evil, at most. That doll could pull a knife on my family at any minute, but the worst I’d ever do to them is make them eat vegetables.

Elf face

Look deeply into his eyes. He knows you’ve been bad, very bad indeed. And now you must be punished.

Well, to each their own. If you enjoy your Elf on the Shelf, more power to you. And if you wake to find him in a strange place, it must be because someone in your family put him there. It must be.