Thursday, December 8, 2011

And the Shelf He Rode In On (Part I)

We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Shonen Knife (mp3)

A f*#king elf might be the death of me.

Have you seen the Nicole Kidman movie “The Others”? In it, she’s the mother of two special-needs children whose skin is hyper-sensitive to light, and they have become recluses and shut-ins in a mansion/castle in the UK.

(SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT... although if giving away the surprise ending to a decade-old movie is a spoiler, it means you didn’t plan on seeing it...)

The big catch of the movie, and one I failed to properly appreciate the first time around, is that the terrible mean ol’ servants aren’t the enemies in the film. They’re the heroes. The enemy in the film is their mom.

Back to the f*#king elf. Laura Jane arrived by box, purchased from a store by a relative seeking revenge on us for some previous crime, three years ago.

My children had many times over witnessed a box precisely like it in one store after another, constantly begging us for one, a special elf for our house. We’d heard of these damn things, and we were certain it was a terrible idea. But now one was in our house, wrapped up without our knowledge or approval. We had been infiltrated.

My daughters unwrapped the package. They shrieked and screamed. They opened the box. Inside the box was, encased in mixed paper and plastic, an Elf on the Shelf. Much like Stormtroopers, all these elves look exactly alike. Which is to say nothing like any other elves on any other Christmas shows. They look like Justin fucking Bieber.

My daughters opened the box. They removed the Elf from his bondage. They hugged him and tested to see if he had any special features, sounds, or moving parts. They then, right there at that moment, mutually agreed that this Elf was female, and that her name was Laura Jane.

How, you ask? How can children of relative intelligence and sanity open a box “Made in China,” pull out a cloth mass-produced creature, and convince themselves that this thing came from the North Pole? I do not know. I only know it happened, and I didn’t have the courage or the cruelness to crush their enthusiasm like a grape.

From that day to Christmas, we became a predictable stupid American family. Laura Jane hid at night. She messed shit up. She ate cookies and spilled milk and snuck into the computer room and watched porn late at night. She was a cute adorable deviant menace.

She disappeared to the North Pole after Christmas, and we thought that was the end of Laura Jane, the transgendered fabric elf from China. But no, the next Thanksgiving, the girls were literally frothing at the mouth for Laura Jane’s return.

Although I’m not competitive about most things in life, I can’t say that about creativity. In my mind, I am hands-down the single most creative living mind not currently working in Hollywood, the book publishing industry, the comedy circuit, the newspaper-column industry or the big-time blogosphere.

So if regular normal boring parents could make their elves hide and mess shit up and be all playful, then I would by God kick it up a notch.

Therefore I created a Gmail account for Laura Jane, and she started sending nightly emails to the girls. Probably after she was done watching all that elf porn, but how would I know, right? Laura Jane even stole our camera and took a few pictures (clean, safe) and attached them to her emails. Ours was a technologically savvy elf.

The season was fun. Everyone enjoyed playing with the elf. I was super-cool creative, and we were awesome parents. Yada yada.

But something happened on the way to heaven.

(You can read my post foreshadowing all of this, from November 2008, here.) 

Part Two - "Bad Dad," wherein I experience the stages of grief, emotionally abuse my daughter, and am reminded why the Christmas season is so despicable

Part Three - "The Night Before," Wherein at last shines a faint glimmer of hope.


Bob said...

I've have no idea how this will turn out, but as with johns children, the amazing part is the ages of your daughters and that they buy into this. My brother hipped me to the Santa Claus lie when I was four. As today's children lose their innocence at younger and younger ages, it is perhaps instructive what they will themselves to believe. A defense mechanism, maybe?

Anonymous said...

I continue to be amazed at the energy my girls put into Twinkle; he went to school yesterday with my second grade daughter, after she wrote him a note the night before, asking him if it would be ok for her to take him if she would make sure she didn't touch him, but wrapped him in a blanket so his magic wouldn't disappear. We did the gmail account thing, too, but that faded. Our elf is a low key elf, not making messes or creating chaos (the kids are good at that with no help) but moving around every night. My older daughter is in on it now and loves to continue the fiction for her sister. All in all, it's been one of the more memorable, if commercialized and packaged, holiday traditions of our recent years.