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Beloved elf tradition to hit milestone: Elf on the Shelf still full of fun after 12 years of Christmas shenanigans

Posted on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 9:22 am


Coffee County Manchester Public Library elf Manny snoozes in an old card catalog drawer.

Staff Writer
John Coffelt

While we’re not sure how long that is in fairyland, the dozen years since the Elf on the Shelf phenomena sprang into our yuletide traditions has been rich with lighthearted pranks that have captured the magic of youth and of the holidays for a whole generation.

Authors Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell journaled the story of “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” in 2004 over a cup of tea.

The idea that the authors put forth was that a scout elf, would come to homes around the world to report back to Santa whether the children were being naughty or nice (apparently in the new millennium Santa has trouble keeping track).

Families adopt their scout elf, but said elf tends to find it difficult to avoid trouble himself. Elves are strange that way.

The important thing to remember, though, is that the elves’ magical ability to fly back to the North Pole nightly and report to Santa is lost if they are touched.

“There’s only one rule that you have to follow,” the book reports, “so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”

Through extensive research, the Manchester Times  Lifestyles Department has chronicled some elves’ most elaborate feats.

One of the most common activities elves do is leave messages for children. Sometimes these are in M&Ms, Cheerios or even on a cellphone or tablet.

One elf was caught fishing for Goldfish crackers in the bathroom sink using a popsicle-stick fishing pole.

Countless elves have found themselves is difficult spots with their children’s other toys. Watch for army men that tape elves to the wall or in one reported case, a legion of Star Wars figures captured and dangled a family’s elf over a lighted stovetop.

Elaborate and naughty elves have been known to roll their family’s Christmas tree, while some only swap Christmas stockings with children’s underpants.

Some elves are the pious type and tend to interact with the nativity displays or offer inspiring religious messages to their children.

Homesick elves can have a tea party or play board games with other toys.

One of the more humorous mistakes that an elf can make is to confuse doggy biscuits for Santa’s cookies.

Manny, Coffee County Manchester Public Library’s elf, will be back this year. He will be in the stacks from Dec. 1-22.

Library Director Pauline Vaugh said that her favorite activity that Manny did was when he found an old card catalog drawer with a little blanket as if he had been sleeping all night in the drawer.