Mike Buzzelli

Hey, dude! Get off of my shelf!

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I don’t have any children, but I try to stay current. Somehow, I missed the whole “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon that swept the nation. I kept seeing this smiling elf on a few mantels, and I finally broke down and asked a child expert, i.e. any parent in America, “What’s the deal with the elf on the shelf?”

I don’t know how I missed the trend. Some things just slip by. I was late to Hacky Sack, too. I was born somewhere between the Hula Hoop and the Cabbage Patch doll.

If you are living in the same child-free cave that I have for the last couple of years, here’s the scoop: “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” is a 2005 children’s picture book, written and self-published by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. The little guy is supposed to sit on the mantel and watch children for alternating signs of good or bad behavior and report back to Santa. Yeah, that’s not too creepy.

The rhyming Christmas-themed tale has won numerous awards as a book and as a toy. It’s won a sleigh-full of accolades, but that doesn’t negate the creep-out factor.

This smiley nameless elf would have frightened me as a child. He’s Santa’s National Security Agent. He’s probably wire-tapping the Speak-N-Say. Don’t tell the Cookie Monster anything on that Fisher-Price phone; it’s searching for keywords, like booger, jerk-face and H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

A lot of children’s stories have frightening elements. Most people are terrified of the flying monkeys in the “Wizard of Oz.” I was afraid of the boat that Willy Wonka drives around his chocolate factory. The one that has scary faces projected on the wall. Yeah., that’s normal. Once, I threw a Tootsie Roll at the television when I saw the long-nosed Child Catcher in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Still, after all of those childhood scars, I’m glad I wasn’t a kid after the publication of this book. The “Elf on the Shelf” would give me the heebie jeebies. Everyone knows that Santa makes a list and checks it twice; I just wouldn’t have wanted one of his covert agents around looking for evidence like my game room was a CSI crime scene.

As a child, I had issues with the Naughty and Nice List. For the record, I caught on to Santa’s game pretty quick. My brother Rick and I got an equal amount of presents on Christmas Day, but he threw rocks at the neighbor girl and I had straight A’s (except in math). If Rick didn’t get coal in his stocking, no one did.

That’s when I first suspected Santa didn’t really keep track of the good and the bad. I was sure of it when the bully down the street got all sorts of nice stuff for Christmas. She was pretty happy December 25. Yeah, my bully was a girl. Let’s skip over this part.

If I see that dude on your shelf, I am going to want to blindfold him, except that’s just the sort of thing that’s going to put me on the alleged Naughty List. I have decided not to take chances, just in case.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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