The whole Elf on the Shelf phenomenon has always seemed a bit weird to me. It began as a children's book in 2005, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Coe Steinwart. The book tells a tale of how Santa Claus sends elves to spy and snitch on kids who've been naughty, intelligence which becomes helpful in determining who gets decent gifts and who gets a lump of coal.

Marketing being what it is has resulted in the Elf on the Shelf being packaged and sold to families all across the fruited plains. Each Christmas season, moms and dads stick the elf on a shelf as a reminder to the kiddos that Santa's goon squad is there keeping an eye on them.

I don't know about you, but as a kid, I might have felt mighty resentful of a rat fink elf taking up temporary residence in my house and the thing just may have found itself sleeping with the fishes. Just sayin'. I imagine that some kids might be incredibly fearful of the idea that a little toy doll is eyeballing them. Remember Chucky? Yikes!

Now the Elf on the Shelf has been given his own cereal brand. Will he get a talk show next? After spending the night sleeping with one eye open in fear of the elf, kids are being made to stare at his snarky little face on their cereal boxes at breakfast. This is first-degree messing with a kid's head. It's borderline child abuse.

Speaking as a former kid, there is a special place in you-know-where for adults who use little toy elves to terrorize small children. I say off the elf and let kids enjoy their Christmas once more.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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