COLUMN: Merry Christmas, Santa’s ‘associates’ are watching


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In my very humble opinion, the best part of Christmas is the traditions that are built and passed down from generation to generation.

My Christmas tradition includes overeating, taking a very long nap and forcing my younger cousins into multiple viewings of “A Christmas Story.” When I have children I hope to pass these activities down to them.

Not all traditions last forever though.

One tradition that has gone by the wayside over the years in my family is the annual visit from Santa Claus. Oh, he still shows up, but rather than making one stop at Grandma’s house, he now finds it more time-effective to hit up each individual house while we are all gathered at one central location.

That also means, however, that the traditions associated with preparing for Santa’s arrival are no more. No longer does anyone have to make a late run to the liquor store for a 6-pack of Santa’s favorite microbrew and the meat market for a pound of his beef jerky of choice.

While those might seem like odd Christmas activities, there’s a long-running tradition that has recently been joined by a terrifying new one that has me scratching my head.

What is this holiday horror of which I speak?

My answer can be summed up in five words: “The Elf on the Shelf.”

These “cute” little elves – with names like Squiggles and Jingles and vacant stares and emotionless rosy-cheeked faces – have in recent years become something of a popular culture phenomenon.

Parents willingly open their doors to these little heathens and allow them full access to their homes and families.

They’re supposed to be keeping an eye on the children, making sure they’re on their best behavior until the big day arrives. If they step out of line, Jingles reports back to the North Pole and said child is placed on the Naughty List. In prison they call those people snitches … snitches don’t last very long in the joint.

Some of these mischievous little nightmares have even taken to petty crime to let the children know just who’s in charge. Recent Facebook posts by my friends with children have shown toilet papered Christmas trees (vandalism), presents missing from under trees (theft) and baking ingredients flung with no regard for cleanliness around the kitchen (not a crime, but very inconsiderate).

It seems as though the inmates are now running the asylum.

It’s bad enough that parents have allowed “The Mercenary of Good Behavior” to keep their children in check during the weeks leading up to Christmas for as long as they have, but now they’ve conspired with the fat man to bring even more terror and unease to their offspring.

I’ve argued for years that allowing a mysterious stranger with obvious supernatural abilities to follow the comings and goings of children while they’re sleeping or awake borders on child endangerment. Allowing the man to send operatives to live amongst the children is just pushing it a little too far.

What’s next? Wire taps on toy telephones? Waterboarding G.I. Joe until he rats out little Johnny over the whereabouts of Barbie’s convertible? Sleep deprivation for Dora the Explorer until she turns state over what happened to the money from Monopoly? Where do we draw the line?

Children have enough to worry about this time of year without the fear of an unchecked houseguest with questionable morals and a direct line to Santa harassing them day in and day out.

Like the 6-packs and beef jerky my family once left for Santa, it’s time for these traditions of mistrust and intimidation to go away.

Merry Christmas. Just don’t say it too loud … he’s watching.