A few years ago, I noticed photos of a little elf popping up on my social media channels. I mostly ignored them because I figured it was some holiday related meme and I wasn’t interested in participating. It wasn’t until my daughter asked me if I knew about the Elf on the Shelf that I finally realized what was going on. For those who aren’t familiar with this holiday tradition, allow me to explain (via Wikipedia):
The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a 2005 children’s picture book, written and self-published by Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart, featuring a Christmas-themed tale that explains how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and who is nice. The story dictates that the elf’s main priority around the family’s household is to keep watch over the children’s behavior during the day and return to the North Pole overnight to report their behavior to Santa Claus, detailing any acts of obedience or misdeeds performed by a child during that particular day, returning home by the following morning. Starting from the day following Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, the elf remains with its family to ensure that they behave properly throughout the holidays. The top policy regarding the Elf on the Shelf is to refrain from touching the creature, as doing so could permanently erase any Christmas magic with which the elf had been bestowed. Every day, the elf’s position changes, providing the family with the responsibility of locating its current perch before its departure for the year on Christmas Eve.
In other words, the Elf is Santa’s 007 (and you thought the NSA was bad).
It wasn’t long before my kids started inquiring about the Elf on the Shelf. They had overheard several of their friends talking about the elf at school and were demanding that the elf pay them a visit. They gathered tiny pitchforks and torches and planned to go to the North Pole to have a chat with Santa.
After appeasing the angry mob with some homemade hot chocolate, I assured the kids that the elf hadn’t overlooked them. He was merely stuck in traffic. Having sat in Houston’s traffic for a good portion of their lifetimes, they easily believed that story. However, my mouth had written a check my butt couldn’t cash (lol, I said butt). I had no elf and they were sold out in stores.
Fortunately, I discovered a Green Goblin action figure from my son’s discarded toy pile. Goblins and elves are interchangeable, right? The kids wouldn’t even notice a difference.
I placed the elf on the mantel and looked forward to seeing the children’s delight the next morning. However, things didn’t go as planned.
The kids stared at the mantel with dumbfounded looks on their faces.
“Um, Daddy,” said my son who was 4 at the time. “That’s not an elf. It’s Green Goblin.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s an elf. He only plays Green Goblin on TV.”
My other son who was 8 at the time chimed in. “Daddy, that’s MY Green Goblin. You got it out of the box of toys that I was giving away.”
“I didn’t do anything,” I said. “Maybe you need to take this up with Santa. Who is watching you right now, by the way.” I wanted to insert some sinister laugher, but that didn’t seem festive.
Thankfully, the kids decided to suspend their disbelief and play along with my comic book inspired elf.
Periodically, my son, who is six now, will question me about the elf’s antics. Just the other morning, he woke me up with an interrogation.
“Daddy why is the elf fighting Spider-man?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe Spider-man hates Christmas.”
“I KNOW you did that, Daddy,” he said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said. “Hey, would you like cake for breakfast?’
He shook his head and walked out of my bedroom. That was a close call.
You can follow the elf’s adventures on Instagram – #MochaElf