Elf on a Shelf captures attention of fans young and old
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2012
12/16/12 at 4:10 AM
Show us your elf: Email us your Elf on the Shelf photos, and we'll put them in an online slideshow this week. email@example.com
Zoomie is probably the most precocious member of the Wilhelm household.
He's particularly so in the days leading up to Christmas. When the youngest of the house, 9-year-old twins Jake and Alex, get out of bed, they'll usually find Zoomie in a number of silly situations - most recently, fishing out of the downstairs powder room toilet.
Or making snow angels with flour on the kitchen butcher block.
"Remember the one when he rode this?" Jake asked his mom, Kelly, pointing to a decorative reindeer on the fireplace mantle.
He's also been caught drinking maple syrup - not unlike a guy named Buddy in the holiday movie "Elf."
The difference is that, unlike Will Ferrell's character in that movie about a human boy who is raised by elves at Santa's North Pole, Zoomie really is an elf. Sort of.
Zoomie is one of more than a million Elf on the Shelf elves, a tradition rooted in the 1960s and reinvigorated in 2005 by Chanda Bell and her mother, Carol Aebersold. Together, they self-published "The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition," a companion book to the elf, which a family adopts, names and arranges in various spots around the house, typically for the amusement of their children.
Many families around town have an Elf on the Shelf, and social media - Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, specifically - are aflutter with Elf on the Shelf sightings, both naughty and nice.
Not long after we arrived at the Wilhelms one recent evening, Jake led us to the powder room to meet Zoomie, who was sitting on the top of the toilet tank, fishing pole in hand.
Soon after, Kelly grabbed a spatula and a pasta spoon to retrieve Zoomie for a flour-angel reenactment in the kitchen. Apparently, if you touch an Elf on the Shelf directly, he loses his magic.
This is the third or fourth year the Wilhelms have had Zoomie. But it's the first year Andrea Myers has had Max.
"My 13-year-old daughter, Lilly, is probably more into it than my 4-year-old, Quentin," Andrea said.
The first day Max showed up, Lilly helped Quentin write a Santa letter, which Max would deliver to the Big Man in Red, then bring back a response the following day.
"I had to nip that in the bud real quick," Andrea said. "We couldn't start Dec. 1 with a letter from Santa. Then the expectations would be way too high for every other day until Christmas."
It's been 16 days now, and Andrea doesn't think she's been "super-creative" regarding Max's appearances.
It seems Quentin doesn't really get it that the Elf is supposed to watch him be good.
"He just likes discovering him in a new place every morning," she said. "I'm not even sure he gets Santa entirely, so we're not over-the-top about it."
So far, the most amusing place he's shown up is in the egg shelf in the fridge.
"I wanted to go to bed early. Quentin kept getting up. So I figured he'd be unseen in the fridge if he got up again," Myers said. "And it was funny in the morning when he found him in there 'sleeping.' Elves like the cold, you know?"
That's probably similar reasoning Kelly had with Zoomie, who showed up in the Wilhems' freezer.
At Terri Smith's house, her elf, Silver Bells, replaced her family's Christmas stockings with their underwear.
She started the tradition a couple years ago simply because she loves the "magic of Christmas - maybe a little too much," said Terri, an admitted "sucker for all things that will bring any sense of wonder to my kiddos."
Angela Fabry Schoenrock introduced Elf on the Shelf to her family of six last year.
"My husband says it's creepy," she said. "I think it's fun for the kids to find in the morning, but it's a pain trying to remember to stay up late to move it before daylight."
Their elf, Vixi Lou, has zip-lined to the Christmas tree, hung out with Barbie in Barbie's car and, most recently, cut a hole in Pop's face alongside Snap and Crackle on a box of Cocoa Krispies.
Tiffy, the elf who lives at Heidi Hughes' house, climbed into the kitchen cabinet with a ribbon harness and helped himself to some Griffin's pancake syrup. He's also pillaged Heidi's purse, taking out her credit cards to do a little Christmas shopping. Then there was the time he crept into the laundry and fished out Heidi's husband's underwear. He even left a note: "I see London, I see France, I've got Barrett's underpants."
Tiffy's quite communicative, it seems.
"I bought holiday candy, and Tiffy helped himself to them to write us a message," said Heidi, who showed us a photo of Tiffy, headfirst in a bag of Peanut M&Ms. He spelled out "BE GOOD" on the table.
Cousin Ralph did the same thing at Jen Lyness' house - except Cousin Ralph can't spell too well.
"We have three elves and love this tradition," said Jen, whose elfin cousin arranged M&Ms to read "BE GUD."
'Highlight of the season'
Not all elves live in homes, though.
Kenny, for example, resides at Kilkenny's Irish Pub, 1413 E. 15th St.
One of the establishment's owners, Charlene Rehorn, gave the hostesses an Elf on the Shelf, who has started popping up in various places around the bar.
Now through Christmas, Kenny's photo will appear on Kilkenny's Facebook page.
"We've had a lot of good feedback," said Charlene's brother-in-law and fellow co-owner, Brett Rehorn. For one weekend brunch, Kenny was found wrapped around an Irish coffee, as well as a mimosa.
Some elves are much naughtier, evidence of which is easily found online. Be forewarned: These are some very, very morally challenged elves.
But, for the most part, Elf on the Shelf is a family tradition, one likely to continue at the Wilhelms', where Alex caught Zoomie taking a marshmallow bubble bath.
"Probably my favorite would be ...," Jake started pondering aloud.
"Roasting marshmallows?" Kelly asked. "Drinking syrup?"
No, probably when Zoomie was stuck in a roll of toilet paper, unfurling himself downstairs.
"We've had a great time with Zoomie," Kelly said. "He's definitely a highlight of the season."
To find out more about Elf on the Shelf, as well as where you can find it ($29.95) locally, check out tulsaworld.com/elfonshelf
Original Print Headline: Elfin magic
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Zoomie, an Elf on a Shelf doll, makes snow angels in flour on the cutting board in the Wilhelm family's kitchen. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
The doll is placed in a new location in the home each day, starting from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Kelly Wilhelm uses kitchen utensils to move Zoomie, the family's Elf on a Shelf. The doll is placed in a new location in the home each day from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. The utensils are used because actually touching the elf will cause it to lose its magic. MICHAEL WYKE/ Tulsa World