The notion of the Elf on a Shelf is relatively simple, it’s a Christmas themed picture book written in rhyme explaining how Santa knows who’s naughty or nice, through the assistance of elves who visit children’s homes during the holidays. The book comes in a keepsake box which also contains a small scout elf doll. Part of the fun is that the elf will move to various places in the house, most likely aided by parents (if it’s moving around by itself you should probably de-shelve and kill it). This creates a fun game of hide-n-go seek as children excitedly wonder where the elf will pop up next. It also instills a feeling of X-mas magic as a child’s direct link to Santa while encouraging good behavior. Be wary my child… the elf is watching you!
This elvish concept was creatively conceived in 2005, but stayed shelved until two years later when, courtesy of social media, they became a world-wide phenomenon. During those early years of this growing trend I recall visiting friends’ homes and seeing, and at times being introduced to, their elf. Don’t tell me its name and don’t let it know who I am either. Creepy-ass little things! They have spindly little arms and legs and a disproportionate head; always staring at you through huge soulless eyes. Can I just turn that thing around while I’m here? NO!!! Don’t touch it! That’s one of the rules! If you touch it you’ll take away its magic. O…kay, well I’m gonna just be in the other room…or outside…the hell out of here!
The House o’ Saw has never been one to bend for trend and this was one we could surely miss out on and not miss. Luckily my own daughter and only child had “outgrown” the magical childhood portion of X-mas, we all do eventually. Thus never was there a need for elves on our shelves. And then…along comes the Grandson.
By the Christmas after he had turned 3, he could verbalize quite well and make reasonably understandable inquiries. Daycare is the equivalent of the internet when it comes to those whose primary search engine is Playskool. At daycare he had not only heard of the Elf on a Shelf but had seen the movie… hmmm yet another sales gimmick based X-mas special-the elf had sold out. Now he looked up at me with wide wonder as I unpacked the X-mas stuff and asked where our elf was. We had to have an elf or how would Santa know he had been good? Well hell…I was elf-less and debated on just telling him that the elf was for bad kids who needed to be watched and he didn’t need one because Santa knew he was good (always was, still is).
But then I saw the look in his eyes, he was searching for magic and he would not be denied; think fast Pappy (that’s what he calls me). Desperately I glanced around at the open boxes marked X. Well you see we don’t have an Elf…because… we have something better. “What???” he asks with a big excited smile. We… have (oh come on, there’s got to be something here) we have (just grab the first thing you see with a Santa hat on) a… (AH-HA!) Christmas Monkey! Christmas Monkey? WTF? I had pulled a skinny little stuffed monkey (not the sock kind) with a Santa hat and candy cane scarf out of a box. Where the hell did this come from?
“Can I give him a hug?” he asked, little arms outstretched (the toddler, not the monkey). Um… sure. “What’s his name?” asked between monkey kisses (we should probably wash that thing). His name is… umm… Christmas Monkey… (Christmas Monkey? Oh Pappy that’s L-A-M-E). “Christmas Monkey!!! I love him,” he says holding the little beast at arm’s length, “will he watch me and move around by himself?” Of course he will. “Wow!” he says, wide-eyes full of wonder, “just like magic!” Yeah kid, just like magic.
Thus for the past four years the Christmas Monkey has magically appeared and moved about our home throughout the holidays. And for the last four years our rapidly growing little fella has eagerly searched out his hiding places. Always wanting to give the small creature hugs and talk with it. Now as his 7th year dawns he has begun to question things and I fear the childish magic of not just the holidays but of the world around will soon be lost to him…I weep for his innocence. Maybe not this year but soon he will question Christmas. Kids at school will talk and he will know the “truth.” When he asks, and truly wants to know the answer, I will not deny him the knowledge. I will reluctantly with pride watch him take yet another step, towards being the good man I know he will someday grow up to be.
Until then and beyond, I will hold onto his magic for him should he ever need it. Till rainbows are just a side-effect of weather, till eggs no longer need to be hidden, till that last tooth is secured under a pillow, until the last ride of the Christmas Monkey.
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