Wednesday, December 11, 2013

a new elf in town

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When I was growing up, elves were benevolent creatures. They baked delicious cookies in a hollow tree. They made shoes for the shoemaker when he was asleep, and toys at the North Pole for good girls and boys. 

Sometimes if you were really good, they would even clean your house.  

We always had to help with chores as kids. That included washing dishes and helping straighten up the house before bed. Sometimes after a busy day of running around, we arrived back home dreading the chores that needed to be done. Then Mom would remind us of our favorite wish:
“Well, maybe the elves have come!”

My brother and I crossed our fingers hoping this time the elves had come. They never did. And that’s probably a good thing. The thought of elves creeping around our house would have been a little terrifying. 

But apparently we weren’t the only ones who wanted to outsource our chores to elves. Even Santa is taking advantage of his workforce.

Because now there are new elves in town.

Not the chore-doing kind. Not the cookie-baking kind. Not the toy or shoe-making kind.

Nope, this elf is the spying kind, who hides in odd places and runs reconnaissance on innocent children while they sleep. 

I only recently became aware of this new development. After doing a little research, what I found looked surprisingly familiar.

These little pixie elves aren’t new. My late mother-in-law had a whole elf colony she used to hide around the house on candlesticks, light fixtures, door frames. They didn’t do any undercover work. They just sat there and looked cute.

But apparently a few years ago an enterprising mother/daughter team took the initiative to turn these little Germanic pixies into NSA agents for Santa.

It’s a brilliant idea. Creepy, but brilliant.

And at $29.99 plus tax, I wish it had been my idea.  

But truthfully, any elf I would have come up with probably wouldn’t be as marketable. Or even child friendly.

My elf would probably be too acerbic, more sarcastic than sappy. He would be a shy loner of an elf, the kind of elf that spends too much time with theater people and indie book store owners.

Picture David Sedaris as Crumpet the Elf in “SantaLand Diaries.”

He wouldn't want to bother Santa, who is terribly busy this time of year. And he certainly wouldn't want to make a nightly commute to the frigid North Pole when he could stay toasty and warm inside. So he would take things into his own tiny mittens and whisper well-intentioned warnings to the kiddies.

“Psst, Tommy – do you know what Santa does when a boy pulls his sister’s hair? Let’s just say it’s a good thing your dad still has a job…or does he?”

“Sally, every time you hide a candy wrapper under the bed, a fairy loses its wings.”

“Oh, Ryan, you really shouldn’t take that money from your mom’s purse…seriously…put it back…ok, I won’t tell, but just remember: stealing is a sin and Hell is very hot.”

When my elf became bored, he would quote Joan Crawford movies and 70's sitcoms.

He would have conversations with imaginary friends.

He wouldn’t wash your dishes, but he might rearrange them.

And in the still silent hours before dawn, sitting alone and forlorn in his hiding place, my elf would start crooning like an old blues singer on helium, his high little voice cutting through the night like a rusty knife.

My elf wouldn’t last long.

Sometime during Advent he’d find himself used as kindling, the happy family gathered together around the fireplace watching his paint and felt go up in festive pink and green flames.

Nothing unites a family during the stressful holidays like a common enemy.

To keep up this happy tradition, every family would need to buy a new sarcastic elf every Christmas for the annual elf burning. A modern-day version of the Yule log.

Hold the phone! A new elf each year? My sarcastic elf might be lucrative after all! Especially in urban areas. Even city dwellers not into cutesy or kitschy enjoy tradition and an extra hand where their kids are concerned. I could make a fortune in New York alone

Whoever stated that “sarcasm is imaginatively bankrupt” obviously never read the New Yorker. Or followed David Sedaris’s book sales.

One of my friends knows Mr. Sedaris. I think it’s time to do a little Christmas networking and get my copyright going. I smell a new tradition spawning.

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