Is Suffolk mum Ellen Widdup the only parent who hates Elf on the Shelf?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 December 2016
I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The explosion of technicolour baubles that adorn our tree, the excess of rich food, the happy clappy music in every department store, the excuse to spend money, the lights, the tinsel, the school nativity, the anticipation, writes Ellen Widdup.
I love all of that. I hate the mischievous elf.
I’m talking, of course, about the Elf on the Shelf, a ritual that, like so many others involving the holiday season, crept stealthily across the north Atlantic Ocean from our American friends.
Damn you, America!
It’s touted on websites as a “Christmas tradition,” but I have trouble accepting that, especially since it is based on a book that came out in 2005.
Can a tradition really be born in such a short space of time?
The book was written and self-published by American author Carol Aebersold and her daughter, Chanda Bell.
The premise is that each home has their own Christmas Elf.
He is there to watch over your kids and check they are on their best behaviour throughout December.
Each night he travels back to the North Pole to report back to Santa and each morning when the children wake he can be found in a different position around the house, usually causing some sort of mischief.
It sounds kind of sweet, right? It’s not.
Like with all gimmicks, the fun is short lived. For parents, I mean. Not the kids.
Your children will absolutely adore coming downstairs to find the red felt menace with his creepy plastic smile being held hostage by Lego figures, being eaten by the plastic T-Rex, gaffer taped to the wall by Action Man, taking a ride in Barbie’s convertible or making an igloo from cotton wool balls.
They will laugh delightedly when he makes snow angels in flour on the kitchen worktop which almost makes up for the time it takes to clear up the mess.
And they will adore playing hide and seek until they finally spot him swinging from the branches of the Christmas tree.
Then he will remain there because daddy drank too much wine and started snoring on the sofa and mummy got sidetracked trying to locate a Hatchimal for less than £150 (but the mission impossible that is trying to buy this season’s must-have toy is another column altogether).
“He forgot to travel back to Santa,” they will point out sadly, to which you will have to make up some kind of nonsense about having nothing important to relay to the big man despite the fact that your child gave their pocket money to the homeless chap outside Ipswich station in an attempt to get on the nice list.
So you will hop on to Pinterest or Instagram and find some inspiration.
The elf, who continues to smile creepily, then delivers some candy canes, sleeps in the doll’s house, plays Connect Four with Lalaloopsy and straps some lollipop sticks to his boots to brave the staircase slope for downhill skiing.
The next day he is found under the wheel of Daddy’s car smeared in tomato ketchup. Daddy, who was in charge of last night’s adventure, shrugs.
He is given one more chance. The following morning, he is found squatting over an egg cup full of chocolate drops.
The kids find that hilarious of course. Children never tire of a poo joke.
“I suppose his near-death experience might have caused him to lose control of his bowel,” daddy says.
The following morning I discover the elfin terror spying on me from the top of the shower curtain as I wash my hair. It’s unnerving.
So where are we now?
One more week to go until Christmas. Another seven days of elfin hijinks and Yuletide mischief left.
But we have a problem. A major problem.
The dog has found the antics of the elf as irritating as I have. He feels my pain.
He watched me lob rice krispies over my kitchen floor at midnight and place the elf on top for my kids to find when we’re already running late for school and shook his head in despair.
So he took matters into his own paws.
Luckily the carnage of the elf’s destruction – his stuffing pulled out, his head ripped off and his hat covered in saliva - was not something I subjected my kids to.
I was the first one up this morning and I had just enough time to clear up the cereal and pen a note from their little friend to say that he was unavoidably detained in Lapland.
Now I’m stuck.
Just like the Hatchimal, the elves are out of stock so it’s unlikely we will get a replacement in time.
So all I can do is continue to send missives from the North Pole and hope that the final countdown to the big day overrides any disappointment.
That, and pat the dog.
He may be getting a stocking full of coal from Santa for destroying the little imp but he has saved me from that menacing maestro of holiday shenanigans for this year at least.
Contact me @EllenWiddup