One day, before our writing practice, most everyone in the writing circle professed ignorance of the modern tradition called “The Elf on the Shelf.” Although I am no expert either, I found myself compelled to write the following.
The elf appears mysteriously on a shelf in homes where parents deign to invite him in. “This is the elf on the shelf,” the parents tell their innocent offspring. “He is here to watch over you. Every night he goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa Claus on whether you’ve been—”
Okay, I was going to say “ . . .whether you’ve been good—” but I’m going to move now into the less morally judgmental language of my previous career in special education. Let’s just say the Elf on the Shelf is not interested in whether you’ve been bad or good—after all he’s not God. He can’t read your mind or see into your soul; he can only report on the observable, and tell Santa Claus whether or not the child has been, shall we say, “appropriate.” The Elf on the Shelf is there as a kind of spy, a narc, an NSA agent, a snitch who will tell the Christmas police if you are worthy of acceptance according to prevailing social norms.
My understanding is the Elf on the Shelf—which, as we adults know, is an inanimate object—must be moved to a new perch every evening so as to perpetuate the ruse that he is a living, breathing inanimate object, who has climbed down to travel while the child is sleeping. But let’s face it: will a little snitchy elf (Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Doc and Snitchy) ever attain the Velveteen Rabbit status of “real?” Doubtful. Poor Elf on the Shelf. Doomed to proselytize the propaganda that love (and by extension material gifts) is only for those whom society deems as worthy, as well behaved, as politically correct—or more popular in recent years—those who are willing to thumb their noses at political correctness. This is not the Santa Claus way. Santa—as the song says—knows we’re all God’s children, and that makes everything right. We are all worthy of unconditional love! So hang your stockings and say your prayers cuz Santa Claus comes tonight. You are worthy! Amen.