As holiday traditions go, the “Elf on the Shelf” is fairly new, surfacing in 2005, but it is rapidly becoming a favorite tradition across the country and Canada.
For those unfamiliar with the “Elf on the Shelf,” he or she, as the elf can be purchased in either gender, is a magical little pixie who watches the children in their homes to monitor their behavior, good and bad. The children get to name the elf whatever they choose.
When the children go to sleep, the magical elf goes to the North Pole to report to Santa and returns sometime during the night to a different location in the house from where the children last saw him or her.
In homes that have adopted and named an elf it has become a game for the children to hop out of bed and find where the elf has taken up residency. It may be on a shelf or the top of the television. The elf could be attached to the telephone, clinging to a curtain or wrapped around the toilet paper holder. The search for the elf is the most exciting part of elf ownership.
The only rule the children have to follow is a difficult one, as they cannot touch the elf because the touch of a child could diminish the elf’s magic. Adults have no effect on the magic. There is however, a plush elf available with some retailers that can be held and cuddled. That elf’s magic comes from the imagination of the child.
According to Lynn Herrick of The Candle Place, Route 26, Oxford, not only do the children look forward to where the elf will end up after his or her North Pole trip, but in some cases what mischief the elf has gotten into during the night.
“We’ve heard stories about toilet paper being strewn all over the place,” said Herrick. “And one particular mischievous elf apparently got into the flour and left elf foot prints all around the house.”
Ginny Rice, also of The Candle Place remarked, “Parents come in looking for the “Elf on the Shelf” because their children heard about it from their friends and feel left out if they don’t have their own elf.”
At Books ‘n Things, Main Street, Norway, Toni Hamlin said, “I had one customer whose children insisted that each have their own elf.”
Hamlin is no stranger to this type of tradition, having created a Christmas angel tradition for her daughter when she was little.
“The Christmas angel was attached to the end of my daughter’s bed,” recalled Hamlin. “In the morning, the angel would have a note for my daughter. The note might have been an affirmation about something good that she had done or encouragement if she knew my daughter was struggling.”
Jason “J.J.” Gurney, of South Paris and Milton, recently adopted his own elf on the occasion of his ninth birthday.
“I named him Christmas,” said Gurney, “and I’m going to keep a diary everyday of where I find Christmas in the morning. Last night, Christmas was on my headboard, but in the morning I found him in the bathroom. I love everything about Christmas except that I can’t touch him.”
For “J.J” and all the other children who have adopted an elf, it is a reminder that whether they have been naughty or nice the elf will report to Santa each and every night.
The elf is not only a good incentive for children to try to be more nice than naughty, but for the sleepyheads to get out of bed each morning to see where the elf might be. Will it be in the dog’s bed or attached to a doorknob? Maybe the elf will be wrapped around a chair leg or chilling out on the refrigerator.
The elf could be employed year round, but he or she would get pretty darn tired. In most homes he or she shows up around Thanksgiving and goes away for a long and well-deserved nap after Christmas Eve.
The “Elf on the Shelf” comes with a nicely illustrated book that children can touch all they want. The “Elf on the Shelf” including book retails for $29.99 at most retailers.
Whether you choose the “Elf on the Shelf” as a new tradition in your home or create something else like the Christmas angel, it is a gift that keeps on giving year after year and will be passed on from your children to your grandchildren and just possibly to generations beyond.