News & Opinion | November 10, 2021 9:52 am

A Judge Canceled Elf on the Shelf. Kind Of.

A Georgia judge has issued an order to end the Elf's annual reign of terror

Close up photo of a toy elf
Fuck this guy.
Louise Smith/Unsplash

As any parent knows, Elf on the Shelf is utter bullshit: a Christmas-time scam designed to trap parents into forking over $30 to preserve their children’s sense of wonder disguised as modern holiday magic. Fortunately, one brave public servant is finally willing to acknowledge that the Elf on the Shelf has no clothes (by which I mean, is utter bullshit) and put a stop to this nonsense.

Cobb County Circuit Judge Robert D. Leonard II of Georgia issued a call to end the “Elf on the Shelf tyranny” that has been turning well-meaning parents into stressed out, sleep-deprived liars for years now in a tongue-in-cheek order posted on Twitter. Calling the move his “gift to tired parents,” Leonard’s order moves to ban Elf on the Shelf on the grounds that the annual holiday tradition represents “a distraction to school students and a risk to the emotional health and well-being of young children.”

How could one little elf possibly cause so much harm? Well, for those blissfully out of the know, Elf on the Shelf got its start as a children’s book in 2005 that comes with a little elf doll. According to Elf on the Shelf legend, the elf comes to stay in children’s homes between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to keep an eye on them and then report back on their behavior to the big guy up at the North Pole. Seems harmless enough, if maybe kind of manipulative, but like many inventions — guns, the internet — Elf on the Shelf is one that may have once seemed like a good idea on paper, but has proven too powerful and ultimately destructive for mankind.

For one thing, part of the Elf on the Shelf tradition requires parents to move the doll around the house every night between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Naturally, parents have a tendency to forget to do this from time to time, and children have a tendency to not take it well. As Leonard put it, “Inexplicably, Elves sometimes move and don’t move overnight. When these Elves do not move, it leaves our children of tender years in states of extreme emotional distress.”

Another part of the Elf on the Shelf folklore holds that children cannot touch the elf, lest its magic dissipate. Obviously, putting a toy on display and telling kids not to touch it is only going to end one way: with a child and/or that child’s siblings in tears over having assaulted the elf and ruined Christmas. In the order, Judge Leonard himself recalls a “horrific incident in his own home where three children were sent to school in tears, with one child being labeled an ‘Elf Murderer’ and accused of making the elf ‘lose his magic.’”

Essentially, Elf on the Shelf is, as InsideHook’s resident Cool Dad once put it, “a scourge on all that is good and pure about Christmas.” It’s a seemingly cute idea that actually just places an added burden on stressed out parents already tasked with the chore of making Christmas happen in the first place, while simultaneously creating extra opportunities for kids to have holiday meltdowns.

Obviously if unfortunately, the judge’s elf ban was facetious, but he still added a “no contempt” clause for the brainwashed Elf on the Shelf loyalists out there who wish to continue perpetuating the annual scam, I mean tradition.

Elf on the Shelf can still get fucked, though.