No, “the Elf on the Shelf” is not real. It is a lie just as much as the Santa himself – a figment of imagination that keeps fooling people globally, especially the children whose minds are like clean slates where you can write just about any story you want to.
Christmas is designed with tiny children in mind. The never-ending Santa mythos and the never-ending battles over popular items are all aimed at providing Christmas happiness to another generation of little beings who have yet to grasp that everything is a grand fiction.
The myth known as the “Elf on the Shelf” has been one of the most popular tales to tell youngsters in recent years. Everything you need to know is included here.
A Children’s Book Started It All
Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell wrote the children’s book “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.” The rhyming book, which was self-published in 2005, recounts the tale of a bunch of Santa’s elves (sort of spies) who hide out in homes around the nation to observe youngsters and determine whether they are bad or good. The book soon gained popularity as a sequel to the Santa Claus Christmas legend. Additionally, it earned the 2008 Creative Child Awards’ “Book of the Year” award.
The elf’s ascension started in 2008. The Elf on the Shelf joined the social networking site Facebook, and the book’s creators, Aebersold and Bell, embarked on a book tour. By 2012, the elf figure had gained traction, and he was included on a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since 2013, The Elf on the Shelf continued to be a best-seller.
According to the story, the elf returns to the North Pole at night to inform Santa about how the children are doing before heading back to their houses to hide. Thus, the elf engages in a game of hide-and-seek with the children, who each day search for their elf in a new location in their home.
The book establishes just one rule that kids must obey in order for the elf to function properly: “Kindly refrain from touching me. My enchantment may fade, and Santa may not hear what I’ve seen or learned.”
After Christmas, the elf returns to the North Pole, most likely to be with Santa until the next Thanksgiving. Nobody appears to discuss why the most reliable delivery mechanism for this Santa monitoring ring is available in large department shops, or why the elves just began appearing in 2005, but there you have it.
A Toy is Included with the Book — As is Encouragement of Parental Deception.
When parents buy the story book for their kids, they get a miniature plush elf to use in reenacting the book’s events. It’s a chance for parents to practice their deception abilities, to see whether they can persuade their children that this elf is genuine, lives in their house, and interacts with Santa. Jennifer Garner was caught holding an Elf on the Shelf box in 2007; soon afterwards, the Today program broadcast a story about the item, resulting in a surge in sales.
You may purchase the elf with “light skin tone” or “brown skin tone” and in either male or female form.
You Have the Option of “Personalizing” Your Elf.
You may give your elf any name you like. As explained in the book, being named enables elves to be empowered by Christmas magic and travel back and forth to the Santa’s home – the North Pole. The book urges families to construct a miniature birth certificate for the elf, complete with its date of adoption and a name.
The Toy Can Create Competitiveness and Likely Feelings of Insufficiency
Since the elf is intended to be “living” and monitoring youngsters to determine if they are being bad or good, this toy needs parents to relocate it each night. There are whole Pinterest boards dedicated to suggestions for inventive ways to incorporate your elf into your home in order to amuse your kids.
This might contribute to a parent’s holiday stress if the kid is young. Additionally, to the real task of remembering to relocate the elf, some social circles may put pressure on you to have your elf do the most intriguing, imaginative, and theatrical things possible in order to disgrace and embarrass the elves that the friends of your children have.
The burden has even prompted some parents to resort to radical tactics such as afflicting their elf with a severe case cold of the flu or a fractured leg in order to escape the nightly elfin relocation – hardly the stuff of nice Christmas memories.
“Is it any wonder that this kind of holiday madness, which dovetails with every strain of guilt mothers feel over their domestic imperfections, coupled with the catch-22 that if you do your job right, your children will never thank you for it (because all these goodies come from the Elf!), sometimes leads to a backlash?” Kate Tuttle wrote for the Atlantic in 2012.
The Advantages of Parenting are Dubious.
Elf on the Shelf is equally contentious as a parenting tool. The narrative makes it quite evident that Santa is too busy in the North Pole to monitor every kid on the planet, and hence, the elf has been assigned to perform his dirty job for him. The elf acts as a physical reminder to youngsters that they should be “good,” not “bad,” and some parents use the elf to punish their kids by informing them that the “elf is always observing.”
However, this strategy has its own set of complications. As Petula Dvorak put it in 2012 for the Washington Post:
It’s a Faustian deal. First, you get this amazing disciplinary tool. My little heathens instantly turned into angels the moment I said, “The Elf is watching.” Not like the abstract “Santa is watching. “This was a real, actual thing, staring down at them with dead eyes, perched on the curtain rod, then the bookshelf, then swinging from the chandelier. I was beginning to fear withdrawal come January.
In theory, educating your children to be “good” in order to appease an imagined elf may not educate them to discern right from evil, but rather to behave for the promise of incentives. Parents could just continue the elf game throughout the year, but it seems tedious and has the likelihood of backfiring once your kids understand their moral compass was built on a toy.
The Elf is a Surveillance State Icon Disguised as a Child’s Toy.
“I observe and report on everything you do!” the elf threatens in The Elf on the Shelf, adding that “if you break a rule, news will get out.” This does sound somewhat familiar!
In 2014, Alex Steed penned a column for the Bangor Daily News where he stated: “Having been molded by this age of NSA overreach, [Edward] Snowden, Wikileaks and Anonymous, what bothers me most is that inviting Elf on the Shelf into the home unnecessarily extends surveillance culture into a place that should be free of it.” Alex further wrote: “Santa Claus is a myth that at best represents generosity at its finest. But with the elf, we choose to emphasize his surveillance. That is really weird.“
Some people find the “elf game’s” very rules troubling. As Laura Pinto, a professor of digital technology, and Selena Nemorin, a co-author of a report published by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, put it:
[T]he hands-off “play” demanded by the elf is limited to finding (but not touching!) The Elf on the Shelf every morning, and acquiescing to surveillance during waking hours under the elf’s watchful eye. The Elf on the Shelf controls all parameters of play, who can do and touch what, and ultimately attempts to dictate the child’s behavior outside of time used for play.
They argue that the toy “blurs the line between play time and real life” due to the elf’s constant observation (at the very least during Christmas season).
As Fortune writer Colleen Leahy puts it, “The Elf on the Shelf embodies, He sees you when you’re sleeping/He knows when you’re awake — lines disturbing to the cynical adult or Santa-fearing child.” And, perhaps more than the Christmas song, the item begs an uncomfortable question: What does it teach youngsters when they feel they are always being monitored and that this is eventually for their good? At the very least, according to Pinto and Nemorin, this suggests that we are preparing our children for “dangerous, unthinking acceptance of power systems.”
Additionally, the elf raises concerns about security inside private homes, which may startle some kids. Tuttle wrote: “Why introduce an element of dread and mistrust into a season and holiday that are supposed to be about love, community, and forgiveness?”
This year has already been difficult. We need the right to enjoy the holidays without fear of big-government monitoring in our homes – regardless of how whimsically wrapped.
For parents indulging in such ridiculous acts, it is time to atone and choose the right path. They need to understand that they are raising their children within a framework of a toxic environment of lies, deceit, and surveillance that weaves a child’s moral compass to a fictious toy, which is nothing more than just a lie. What morality will their children have when the grow up?