This little guy here is Doodlebug. Don’t let the cute name fool you. He works for the big guy. You know the one. Red suit. White beard. Reindeer. Perfectly willing to cut you off if you’re naughty….. Doodlebug does the big guy’s dirty work. He’s a scout elf and he gets paid to keep an eye on things. Crack wise at your dad, you’re on the naughty list. Pull your sister’s pigtails… naughty list. He makes sure Santa Clause is always in the know.
The Elf on the Shelf is an interesting story. He comes to your house and finds an out of the way place to sit and watch. Each elf is named by the family he lives with and every night he flies back to tell Santa how everyone is doing and every morning when you get up he’s in a different place.
Elf on the Shelf’ is a branded version of a story that I suspect has been around for generations in some form. The idea was conceived by the mother/daughter team of Carole Aebersold and Chandra Bell. They wrote a story about the Christmas elf tradition in their family, but all the publishers they approached weren’t interested. So they started their own company in 2005 to sell ‘Elf on the Shelf’ kits regionally in the Atlanta area in 2005. By now they’ve sold 1.5 to 2 million and it’s becoming a national trend.
We got our own elf last year. Personally, the idea of some elf sitting around all day watching us creeps me out, and the elf’s appearance makes it even more creepy. But, Santa is already watching so the elf fills a niche and explains just how Santa knows just who is being naughty or nice. The elf comes with a sturdy little kit to store him in and a book that explains the rules to kids with rhyming verse and warm water color illustrations.
The kit has a very retro feel to it. In this era of polish and flash it practically looks home made, you can decide for yourself if that is a good thing. As you can see, our little guy is very Caucasian but they do come in darker skin models these days, and an add-on skirt is available separately if you want a girl elf. The elf comes wearing a red jumpsuit and Santa hat and doesn’t have any hands or feet. The arms and legs all come to a point and his eyes are perpetually glancing to the left giving it a definite ‘eye on you’ vibe. The vintage look comes off creepy to me because it reminds me of an episode of the classic Twilight Zone where a puppet comes to life and does a lot more than tell Santa if you’ve been naughty.
I’m pretty sure ‘creepy’ is a pretty typical adult reaction, but adults aren’t really the target audience. So I’ll cover the four year olds reaction next time. And if you’re an elf newbie, come back and read my tips on elf care and handling tomorrow.