Santa gets help from ‘Elf on the Shelf’

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So, how does Santa Claus know which kids have been good or bad? I mean, there are millions upon millions of kids around the world. Like Calvin of the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” once noted, maybe he could get lucky and do something naughty when Santa’s watching over some other kid.

“If I do it quick, the odds of Santa watching me at that exact moment are virtually nil,” he reasoned.

Well, it’s attitudes like that that make Santa turn to other means of watching over kids as Christmas Day draws near. While he saves the high-tech surveillance equipment for those with especially mean dispositions, Santa also makes use of the elf workforce at the North Pole to watch over and report on children all over the world.

Email newsletter signup

The product is called “The Elf on the Shelf,” and it is a longstanding Christmas tradition in many families. The kit sells in stores nationwide and locally at The Mustard Seed in downtown Demopolis.

It comes complete with one of Santa’s elves and a storybook telling the story of what the elves do for Santa. An activity book for children sells separately.

Once the kit is opened, the elf is given a name by his adoptive family and is given some space on a shelf. Day to day, the elf moves to different locations in the house as a sign that he is real and is paying attention to what the children are up to.

“The big no-no is that the kids are not to touch him,” said Suzanne Stallworth Young, the owner of The Mustard Seed. “That takes the magic away from him. He is sent from Santa Claus to watch over the kids for the next month to determine if they are on the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ list.”

Usually put up the day after Thanksgiving, the elf stays with the family until Christmas Eve, when he leaves the house for the North Pole to help load the sleigh for Santa’s busiest day of the year.

Young said that, sometimes, the elf brings little presents or some candy of the child has been good, but if the child has been bad, the elf can get angry and do things overnight like tear up toilet paper in the bathroom or get caught behind the wheel of the family car after apparently spending the night joyriding around town.

Elves have also been known to write notes to the children congratulating them on their good behavior or warning them of their bad behavior.

“It gets the children up in the morning and gets them going,” Young said. “They look forward to waking up and finding out where their elf is. It really helps to straighten the kids up.”

The Elf on the Shelf kit sells for $29.95, while the activity book sells for $14.95. It has been seen in Hallmark stores and other similar stores.

Working for Santa Claus has to be one of the best jobs in the world, so it’s no wonder that elves volunteer to help Santa make sure that presents are given only to good boys and girls. They are hard to spot, but if you look hard enough, you can catch a glimpse of one of Santa’s elves keeping an eye on the children.

Whether you see him or not, he is there, taking notes and doing his duty so Santa will know to bring presents to a good child or to skip the house of a bad child this year.