Festive elves inspire children’s good behavior
By John Coffelt,Staff Writer
It seems old Kris Kringle is not the only elf spreading Christmas cheer this holiday season.
Coffee County Central High School’s Andrea Freeze captured some of her elf, Jingles, nightly activities. Above he wishes Freeze’s daughters, Alyssa, 7, and Aliza, 5, good luck on their performance in the “Nutcracker Fantasy” in Tullahoma. (Photo provided)
Of late, a legion of elves has been visiting homes long before the all-important night watching for good boys and girls (and getting into some mischief along the way).
For the most part, the Elf on the Shelf phenomena started with a self-published book by a Georgia woman and her two adult daughters.
Carol Aebersold and her daughters, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts, authored a book detailing Santa’s scout elves who wake each season to observe families’ little ones in 2005.
The elves are said to fly to the North Pole while their families sleep to report to Santa.
Each morning the families wake to find their elves in a new spot and sometimes find the results of some elf-y fun.
Most importantly, the little elves must not be touched or they will lose their Christmas magic.
Aebersold knew she had a hit and would not be deterred by a mounting pile of rejection letters by publishers.
So she and her daughters went on to publish the book themselves, and the tradition caught on, becoming an instant success.
She told Book Business, a publishing industry website, “When we started the publishing company on our own, we began with the belief that we had something so unique, so special and so different, it needed to be shared.”
The holiday tradition spread and now is worldwide in
over 2.5 million homes have adopted their very own elves.
What an elf does while his family sleeps varies by elf.
According to Hickerson Elementary School kindergarten teacher Liz Borthick, an elf named Jake has taken residence in her class.
“Jake, our elf, came to our classroom on December the 3rd. On that day we read the Elf on the Shelf book.”
Borthick had the students come up with several names for the elf and then they voted and made a graph to help decide what to call their polar visitor.
“He has moved around the room every night but hasn’t been very mischievous yet,” she said. “He has been helping us review some of our common core curriculum in the class every day with prepositions (to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by and with) and position words (above, below, beside, in front of, behind and next to).”
The students have found Jake sitting on a shelf, the next between some boxes, hanging from the class’s Elmo or sitting in between books.”
So far, Jake has been pretty mild mannered, but that might change.
“I think Jake is really going to start being more mischievous this coming week,” Borthick said.
She, apparently possessing a touch of Christmas magic herself, anticipates that the classroom elf may leave messages for the students,
He may start “writing his name or sight words with Post-it Notes.,” she said. (Kindergarten has over 50 words that it must recognize by sight)
The class elf, looking for adventure may be planning to zip-line from the Christmas tree to the projector. And he might even graduate to rearranging some desks.
Coffee County Central High School business teacher Andrea Freeze said that her family also has had an elfin addition.
“Our elf, Jingle, has been keeping an eye on the kiddos diligently as well as trying to be encouraging,” she said.
“He’s been found buckled up in our van, hanging from the chandelier, driving the Barbie car and lots of other places.”
Freeze said Jingles also has left notes and treats for the children.
“He’s spelled out ‘be good’ in our holiday M&Ms, wished the girls good luck on their Nutcracker performances, and today he left them some sweet treats with a note to start their week.”
Freeze said the family “decided to adopt an elf this year at the request of our two oldest children, Alyssa, 7, and Aliza, 5. Our youngest, Branham, is only 11 months old, but he still laughs at the sight of Jingle. We decided that embracing the Elf on the Shelf tradition would be a magical experience for the kids that could also inspire good behavior and help us all to keep up the spirit of the Christmas season.”