It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of Santa’s tiny gestapo. We didn’t grow up with them and it’s a family tradition to reject new things out of hand. I don’t hate them with quite the burning passion some do, though having discovered the sweeter, Disney looking “new elves” lining toystore shelves, my ambivalence may devolve into hatred. If you’re going to have a tiny creature stalking your children and reporting bad behavior to St. Nick, those little narcs should be creepy as hell. Just my opinion. If you’re going to build character through fear, the MILK & Whiskey way, you don’t do it with a plushy.
At least, that was my working theory this morning. Then I ran into my friend Jane. Jane has an elf named Sprinkles and a little boy we’ll call River. Thursday night, Sprinkles was tucked adorably into a chandelier, peeking down watching the family’s every move, judging, reporting back. Friday before dinner, River was bouncing off the walls in the living room, as usual. Suddenly, a scream ripped through the house. Jane ran into the living room expecting blood.
Sprinkles was sprawled on the floor, face down. River’s eyes were huge, his lower lip quivering. He was holding a lightsaber behind his back and affecting a look of strained innocence.
“Sprinkles fell!” he gasped.
Jane’s expression was serious. “Did you touch him?” she asked, her voice carefully neutral.
River nodded, looking like a man caught in a hit and run.
“If you touched him,” she said, “his magic is gone.” She shook her head mournfully. There was nothing she could do.
About this point, dad came into the room to see what all the commotion was about. He walked over to the elf and nudged it with his foot. “I think it’s dead,” he said. “Better get a box or something.”
River, a child built for the theater, wailed, “Noooooo! There must be something you can do!? Don’t let Sprinkles die!”
Jane left and returned with a shoebox. They laid Sprinkles gently inside. They couldn’t close his plush eyes but they covered his face with some pink tissue paper. They put a note inside apologizing to Santa and asking for any magical help he might be able to give. Then they set the box on the mantle.
Spinkles returned a few days later sporting a head wrap and a hello kitty band-aid. He seems alright, but you know head injuries, they can be unpredictable. Sprinkles could start making some questionable decisions for the next few weeks.
I’m so happy my friends are even weirder than I am.
Madness has been asking for her own elf for a while now. I tell her those are only for really naughty kids, and kids whose parents had sold them out to Santa for peppermint candies and immunity. I would never, I tell her, willingly invite a spy into my house. Sure, Santa says if you have nothing to hide, why hide at all, but everyone’s got something they don’t want the man to know about. I act extra jumpy around Sprinkles, talk real low, get weird and paranoid. There’s more than one way to sow fear. Actually, now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I might have to get one. One of the creepy ones.