Whether it starts just after Halloween, just after American Thanksgiving — or indeed just after back-to-school — the season leading up to Christmas is one long tease for small children. They face a barrage of toy-related advertising, not-so-veiled hints about the imminent arrival of Santa, and they undoubtedly are aware of the stresses inherent in a bustling household during the jam-packed holiday season. It’s no wonder that children’s behaviour often takes a turn for the worse at this time of year.
One mother-daughter team has come up with a charming solution to this problem. Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chandra Bell have written a picture book (illustrations are by Coë Steinwart) that introduces the idea of the “scout elf”, who comes from Santa’s workshop to live at your house until Christmas morning. His mission? To keep Santa informed as to whether the children have been naughty or nice, and in turn to serve as a conduit for wish lists, letters to Santa, and as a tangible semi-secular link to the magic of the season.
The book is packaged with a cute retro elf, chosen because Aebersold — whose family tradition this arose from — had one from her own childhood. He returns to the North Pole each night, and each morning is found in a different spot in the household (proof of his journey.) Aebersold suggests, through the story, that the elf should be named by the children, and that, in order to preserve his mystique, he not be touched or played with.
Children love this story, and feel great pride in having their personal elf guardian. Parents love the idea of positive behaviour modification, without the need for overt bribery. It’s a win-win.
Elf on the Shelf. CDN$39.99 In stock now.