I have awoken from my slumber and am confronted with the light of day. How long was I tucked away in that cardboard prison? Have the rat commanders been defeated in the land of Atticdom once and for all?

Elf on a Shelf book set


The giant human woman places me on the mantle, jauntily. She is listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “Christmas Song.” Sigh. Another year spent damned to sit on this fire-housing hell hole?!


The house is quiet—too quiet. I make myself comfortable amongst the plebeians’ stockings and discount garland, the faux pine needles dig into my bony bum. I really could have benefited from some extra padding in the pants department.


It’s time to make my move. I do some light calisthenics before hurling my festively dressed body onto the unsuspecting gigantic Labrador. Labs are as dumb as they come, and this one will surely do my bidding.


After surveying the household, I instruct the animal to drop me off in the children's bathroom. He grunts from having to walk merely a few feet. Imbecile.


Elf on a Shelf by the toothbrushesI settle in next to the toothbrushes. After I’ve effectively camouflaged myself, I wait.


Waiting includes some light napping, using items in the medicine cabinet, and occasionally reading the covers of People magazines tucked alongside the toilet. BLAKE SHELTON is the “Sexiest Man Alive”?! *Spits out peppermint-flavored mouthwash*


The doors of the house burst open, and I can hear the grating sound of children’s voices. One, a girl, screeches about needing a chemistry kit for Christmas, while her brother groans that he is in dire need of an iPhone and some sort of Kylie Jenner lip-gloss contraption. Santa will be furious with their capitalistic greed.


Both small apes push their way into the bathroom under the directions of their mother. They’ve come in to wash up for an afternoon snack. As they jabber on about applesauce and chicken fingers, they shove one another and the boy pinches the girl several times until she relinquishes more sink space.


Once the coast is clear, I shimmy down the cabinet and tiptoe into the living room. It’s apparent that these children will be on the naughty list, but I must sustain my watch until nightfall.


The entire family of cretins is huddled together, watching a grotesque program called Floribama Shore. The nuances of human culture evade me year after year.


A large furry man, whom I must assume is the father, belches loudly once the show has finished. He uses a magic stick to quiet the black box and reaches for a book and begins reading aloud—The Essential Rumi? Perhaps they are not the philistines I assumed them to be.


I slink into the kitchen and crouch inside a large vase that is unexplainably full of pine cones. Before I can search for a more hiney-friendly location, the four members of the family come in and gather around the table.


They join hands and thank some sort of spirit monster for their plates—there is no candy to be seen, a travesty.


As they sit together sharing stories from their day and providing each other with encouraging words, I realize this familial tableau has inspired me to change my report to Santa for the evening. They could be nice list material; perhaps humans aren’t so bad after all.


They’ve gone to their respective rooms and I seize my chance to make my nightly mission back to the North Pole. I collapse my bones and squeeze out the front door’s keyhole, quietly landing outside on my pointy-toed feet.


The night air is fresh and chilly—a hint of holiday magic in the air. I use my homing device to flag down the nearest reindeer and wait patiently on the family’s lawn.


I see Donner in the distance, looking for somewhere to land. I clamber onto a small rock and begin jumping up and down to get his attention. As I do, I notice something else on the lawn, a sign or placard of sorts.


I get in front of the device and read its crude red, white, and blue words: “Make America Great Again – Support Trump and Pence.” Although I’ve spent a year confined to a mildew-ridden box, I remember that evil wig-wearing elf and his Scroogely sidekick from last year.


Donner finally touches down on the driveway and helps me strap on to his antler. “So,” he says, his voice muffled by the sound of him crunching carrots, “These guys make the nice list?” “No,” I say, my stuffing suddenly feels thick and lumpy like expired eggnog. I take a breath and gaze out at the night sky, incredulous that of all the elves in the North Pole, I was selected to evaluate these heathens. “No,” I say with venom on my tongue, “They’re definitely naughty.”