"And when we went to college and left the house, we'd talk about the Elf, and no one else had heard of this or was doing it," Christa said.
So mom wrote a poem about the Elf and his Big Brotherly ways. The sisters helped turn the poem into a book and a little, old-fashioned Elf doll. Publishers, manufacturers and guys in fancy suits wielding flowcharts rejected the Elf concept. So the women maxed out their credit cards to self-publish the book and create the toy, which sold out at every trade show they visited.
The Elf and his story exploded. American parents ate this up. Move over Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. There's another mythical creature who needs care and feeding.
My family invited the Elf into our lives three years ago. (I was desperate for some help; my boys were being monsters.) It's a Faustian deal. First, you get this amazing disciplinary tool. My little heathens instantly turned into angels the moment I said, "The Elf is watching." Not like the abstract "Santa is watching." This was a real, actual thing, staring down at them with dead eyes, perched on the curtain rod, then the bookshelf, then swinging from the chandelier. I was beginning to fear withdrawal come January.
And here's where it goes horribly wrong. Because Americans have a really hard time keeping things simple, be it Christmas lights, Sweet 16 parties, weddings or Elves.
Those exhausted-looking parents you see muttering in the hallways at work? "Three a.m. . . . she wants me to move the friggin' elf. . . . I was asleep . . . the elf can eat my. . . ."
In the simple story that comes with the Elf, he's gotta move every night. That means parents who forget to do it before going to bed wake up in the middle of the night, realizing they didn't move the bleeping Elf.