(USA Today) -- A few years ago, an elf appeared on the holiday scene and has been working his magic ever since. I'm talking about the Elf on the Shelf, the doll/book combo that is always a best seller this time of year.
The story line is simple. He arrives in the beginning of December and spends the holidays with your family, spying on the kids and reporting back to Santa every night about who has been naughty and who has been nice.
He moves about (with some help) and can be found in a different place every morning upon his return from the North Pole. It's both a hide-and-seek game and a you-better-behave discipline tool. This elf has magical powers. Trust me.
Kids, for the most part, love him. They even name their elf. My young friend Colton calls his Buzzbee. Another young friend named his elf Steve. I do not know why. Neither do his parents.
Lately, however, I have noticed this always-on-the-move elf is starting to drive some parents crazy. One recently revised the Alcoholics Anonymous serenity prayer to give her the strength "not to throw said Elf into the fireplace when my son is sleeping."
Elf postings on Facebook this month are no kinder. One posted photo even shows him bound and gagged.
"That little creep has suffocated the spirit of the season by making my son care about its existence more than he cares about Santa, Jesus or his family," posted one mother who fantasizes about writing a letter from the North Pole, addressed to her son, informing him that his elf has perished in a tragic skiing accident. So far, she has not, but there's time - still two weeks until Christmas.
My belief is if you're going to invite an elf to live with you for the holidays, you have to be willing to pay the price.
At least this elf doesn't drink to excess, appears to keep himself tidy and eats little, if anything. Considering the guests we have had over the holidays, he seems extremely low-maintenance, except for that fact you have to remember to move him around every night.
If I were a parent, I'd be more worried about the kid moving back in 20 years from now.
By then, the elf would appear a very welcome guest.
(By Craig Wilson, USA TODAY)