Last year, I caved and got my kid an Elf on the Shelf. I can’t explain why; I was just browsing through Amazon one day and it looked cute so I bought it. I had no idea there was such and elaborate execution of events that needed to take place on a nightly basis. Had I known that, I never would have bought the thing. Had I known my kid wasn’t allowed to touch it I really wouldn’t have bought it.
I opened the package and the first thing I did was hand my kid the Elf. Then I started reading him the story and got to the part where it tells you you’re not supposed to touch it, or it loses its magic. Great. As the story unfolded, I learned that I was going to have to participate in a daily elaborate ruse to convince my kid the new toy he wasn’t allowed to touch flew to the North Pole every night to rat him out to Santa. I should have done more research.
This year, my kid is older and more aware. He was three last year and didn’t totally grasp the whole narrative. When I told him the drill again this year, he just looked absolutely confused when I told him he couldn’t play with the toy that only comes out a few weeks out of the year.
“Ooooh! Elf!” My kid named his Elf, “Elf.”
I say, “You can’t touch him honey. He’ll lose his magic.”
“Give me Elf.” He seems totally uninterested in this magic thing. I look on the Internet, to see if I can convince him that his Elf will legitimately be screwed if he’s touched. I go to the Elf on the Shelf website, to the Frequently Asked Questions. Here’s what I find:
Q: What should I do if my scout Elf is touched by mistake?
A: Christmas magic is very fragile, and if a scout elf is touched it may lose its magic. If your scout elf has been touched, please sprinkle a little cinnamon beside him or her before you go to bed; cinnamon is like vitamins for scout elves, and it helps them get back to the North Pole. Once they arrive, the North Pole E.R. doctors will check them out.
North Pole ER doctors? Are you fucking kidding me? We are trying to sell the idea that these things are magical beings who fly to Santa every night, but they need to get checked out in an ER when they get there? Who writes this crap?
I took the Elf out of his hands and he just looked at me like I was the biggest asshole on the planet. It was then that I realized I was. Why was I buying into this myth created in 2005? Santa is enough. I don’t need the “magical elf” narrative, too.
My kid actually touches his Elf on the shelf. He plays with him all day. In fact, I just saw him beating up Iron Man. Ours doesn’t fly to the North Pole every night — he sleeps on the pillow next to my son.
And I’m fine with that.