Brett Buckner: This elf is shelved for good
Dec 23, 2012 | 1497 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It took about a dozen hints, but Jellybean finally noticed the stuffed creature submerged up to its eyebrows in the Christmas cactus.

After plucking him from the plant and carrying him around for all of four minutes, the mighty Elf on a Shelf was returned to his natural habitat — the bookshelf, where he remains untouched, unnoticed and undisturbed.

Dio, as our elf is named, has arrived, and it seems no one, especially Jellybean, much cares. For that, I couldn’t be more thankful.

Dio came to us last Christmas with much fanfare and excitement. We read the accompanying book over and over and over again, and Dio would sneak out during the night and commit all kinds of messy hijinks — all with about two weeks left before Christmas.

It wasn’t long before Dio lost all motivation. He would wait until the last minute before revealing, “Oops, somebody left a spoon out of the sink.” Or, “Oh my, is that a Crayola marker missing its top? Dio, you scallywag.”

Pretty soon, Dio gave up the pranks altogether and just hid every morning. Sometimes he was under the covers. Sometimes he didn’t show up until Mommy and Daddy got home from work. Dio was a lazy elf and would plainly rather be on the shelf. He’s like the tree sloth of Santa’s little helpers.

And when Dio disappeared, we didn’t miss him all that much.

I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge or a bad parent for poo-pooing on the “magic of Christmas,” but I’m kind of tired of the whole elf phenomenon. The little dude costs a fortune (ours, thankfully, was a gift) during a time of year when families are struggling to buy Christmas presents, and pre-Christmas elves are just one toy too many.

Besides, he doesn’t DO anything, save for magically making messes. We’ve got a teenager for that, and I don’t have to leave saltine crackers and water out for her.

But the Shelf Elf is just plain creepy. It’s those eyes — wide and leering with just enough red around the cheeks to make him look like a peeping Tom who’s chilly from peering into your windows late at night and videotaping you with his iPhone.

I have nightmares in which he comes alive like that Chucky doll from the “Child’s Play” movies, hiding under my bed and waiting until I fall asleep before stabbing me in the eyeball with those colored toothpicks in the shape of swords that they put in fancy drinks at Red Lobster. Those things are sharp.

And yet I felt bad — call it Christmas guilt — for purposefully hiding Dio from Jellybean when I found him in a bag at the bottom of a box of decorations we didn’t plan to hang. I was afraid that I was robbing her of some great Christmas tradition that she might otherwise one day share with her kids, turning Dio into a family heirloom.

Plus, all the other parents couldn’t stop yakking about how much fun the Elf on a Shelf was. So I stuck him in the cactus and waited.

By Jellybean’s reaction, this is one Christmas tradition we can agree on: Dio’s done.

Contact Brett Buckner at
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