Toying With Big Brother

Last night Mr. Midtown Republican asked me a question as we were out on our nightly dog walk.

“Have you ever heard of something called the Shelf Elf at Christmas?” he asked. I admitted I had not. He explained that a co-worker had told him of this new practice in which parents place an elf at different spots around the house in the days before Christmas. They tell their kids that the elf is spying to see if they are behaving themselves. It is then put in different spots by parents to show that it has gone to the North Pole and informed Santa of their doings and returned to spy some more.

“Sounds like a woman came up with that idea,” I said. Don’t get me wrong. My sex has many wonderful attributes. But there’s also an overbearing side that wants to meddle and direct. Take the First Lady. Pleez, as the joke goes. Michelle Obama wants to get into all our lives, tell us what’s wrong with us, correct it and monitor future behavior. She is not alone. There is Oprah and every woman talk show host. Don’t forget Anna Wintour either, or as her employees call her, Nuclear Wintour, for her imperious ways.

Sure enough, a look at Wikipedia confirmed my suspicions.

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition is a children’s picture book written by American mother and daughter Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. The book was self-published in 2005 by CCA and B Publishing in Marietta, GA. The Elf on the Shelf comes in a keepsake box that features the hardbound book and a small pixie scout elf. Written in rhyme with accompanying watercolor illustrations, it is a Christmas tale of how Santa knows who is naughty and nice. The described tradition of The Elf on the Shelf usually begins around Thanksgiving and lasts until Christmas Eve, when the elves return to the North Pole until the next holiday season.

Perhaps I should narrow it to liberal women.

What troubled Mr. MTR and appalls me is the Big Brother aspect of this. Kids know Santa pays attention to their doings, but to have an actual physical presence around watching you is creepy. It fits in nicely with our times, doesn’t it? What with drones, surveillance and the government ruling what we can and cannot do in our own homes (light bulbs anyone?) this spying has become acceptable behavior.

What if the little nippers decide to retaliate? “Uncle Sam, Mom and Dad are not recycling! Uncle Sam, Mom and Dad are not keeping the house at 67 in the winter and 78 in the summer like you said to! Uncle Sam, Mom and Dad threw paint and CFL lightbulbs away in the trash can!” What then, Mom? A look at your IRS returns?

This is a hideous idea masquerading as something cute. In kindergarten the nuns awarded a white lamb and a black lamb to the best and worst kids of the day to take home to their parents. I lived in terror of getting the black lamb. I don’t even think I knew at 5 what I might do wrong to get the wooly badge of dishonor. I don’t think I ever did. Of course, today such a token would be unthinkable not because it highlights behavior, but for the racial incorrectness of it all.

It may seem trivial to pick on a toy as a politically correct tool, but isn’t it sad how such ideas are now swallowed so willingly by adults?

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