Monday, 19 December 2016

Why I'm all for the Elf on the Shelf

I have just read Stuart Heritage’s take on that phenomenon, the Elf on the Shelf, (Guardian Newspaper) and all I can say – with due respect – is, Stuart, come off of it! I will paraphrase a few of his soundbites: “the most violently dreadful thing to happen in 2016” – (and I thought that was the triumph of the great Orange Gnome!) – “nightmarish, murderer-looking totalitarian snitch”, “terrifying and cynical”, and “a post-truth doll for a post-truth age”…really, Stuart? What else is the elf but a modern take on the eye in the sky, and on all of the supernatural helpmeets that throughout the ages, parents have called in to help supervise wayward children? I haven’t got my James Frazer to hand just now – curses! – but I do remember reading that in certain European cultures, on the days in advance of the festive season, a fairy in the guise of an old woman goes from house to house, looking in windows and down chimneys to see who’s being naughty or nice. I find that scary, and I do know that at least as many children are as afraid of Santa Claus as of other supernatural creatures. Surely at this time of year, harassed parents are entitled to call in a little extraneous assistance while pulling through the marathon of preparations that define the modern, family Christmas? And as for the parents who move the elf around the house in the dark hours to make it seem to the little ‘uns that said elf is actually alive, well, such people are bound to show scheming and devious behaviour in other matters – and they won’t need any elf in being so.

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