My daughter, a typical little girl in every way, dearly wishes we had one.
My grandmother had one of those things when I was growing up. It sat in the shelf of the built-in hutch that was part of her Cicero dining room. Hanging above it were a giant stuffed buck's head and a couple sets of antlers that my Papou had brought home from hunting trips in years gone by. The disembodied deer head was less disturbing to me than the damned Elf.
First of all, the deer was a handsome example of its breed. The elf is a creepy, leering, fingerless mongrel crouching in a corner beside some plates we never used. The antlers held no particular malice, despite their forcible removal from their original host. The elf was silently judging me every time I went past.
Those little buggers scare the crap out of me. But wasn't this their original intention? Did I mention the absence of fingers? How is an elf supposed to function without fingers, anyway? I thought their whole existence was based on their ability to make toys and do Santa's bidding. Perhaps that's why this goon was relegated to the shelf, perfectly suited, as it was, for scaring children, and lacking the opposable thumbs required for building a toy train or a doll house.
I always just associated that elf with the vaguely tacky 50s-based decor that characterized my grandparents' house. You know: the plastic carpet runners everywhere, the carnival glass ash trays, and colored-pebble-lined candy dishes. Oh, yeah, and the empty wine bottles turned into dolls with plastic heads and crocheted dresses. Remember that stuff? No? What about the padded toilet seat and the fuzzy rug that fit right around the base of the toilet? The plastic-canvas yarn-embroidered tissue box covers? Come on, I can't be the only one whose grandmother made this stuff.
Anyway. One thing that I did NOT miss when my grandparents moved to Florida was that stinking elf. Then, a couple years ago, Hallmark or some other bunch of jerks starts marketing those things again, and presenting them as an essential part of the Santa Claus myth. Dude. It's not bad enough that he sees you when you're sleeping; now he leaves his creepy minions around to scare your mother.
I didn't buy one. Hannah wistfully says now and then "I wish we had an Elf on the Shelf," and I remind her of how their lack of extremities is deeply disturbing to me. But I do feel the guilt of disappointing my child by not providing her with the delight of finding her Creep on the Shelf doing something mischievous and clever every morning. I would really expect any Elf that infiltrated my home to behave more like the Bloggess's elf than any of those sweet mommy-blogging elves I see tagged now and then on Facebook. And I'm pretty sure our Elf would terrorize me and give me nightmares.
So. No dice for Hannah on this one. I'll have to think of something equally creepy for her. Preferably something with fingers.