“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake”
The lyrics of the classic Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” warns that Santa always knows if boys and girls are good or bad, but it never explains how.
The answer? His little helpers, known as the Elf on the Shelf or “scout” elves travel to homes of boys and girls around the world and spend the month of December watching the children and reporting back to Santa if they have been good or bad.
The elf appears with a book and letter in tow. The letter explains that the child is to name the elf, who will be staying until Christmas Eve night.
While the main goal of the elves is to monitor the children, they have a mischievous side and each night, they cause a little ruckus somewhere in the house.
Six-year-old Heidi Cole, of Hillsboro, said her elf, Louie, likes to make messes.
“He wrapped my toilet with wrapping paper,” she said. “He made a snow angel with marshmallows and flour. Last year he drew a mustache on a picture of me. I don’t want him to make a mess, but he cleans it up.”
Named after the trumpet-playing crocodile in the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog,” Louie is a little different than other Elf on the Shelf elves. Most elves cannot be touched because they will lose their magic, but Louie has a special power that allows Heidi to touch him.
“Our Louie is a bit different from the traditional Elf on the Shelf,” Heidi’s mom, Jessie, said. “I think that’s why you can touch him because he didn’t come in the box like the others.”
Even though Louie makes a mess in the house, Jessie said she enjoys it when he comes to monitor Heidi.
“It’s fun,” she said. “The magic of it all the whole month. It gets her out of bed very quickly to see what he gets into each night. It’s always fun to see what he’s going to do – tear apart, tear out or pour out. Last year, he was fishing out of her goldfish bowl.”
The rest of the year, Louie joins the rest of Santa’s elves at the North Pole and helps prepare for the next Christmas season.
“He makes toys for all the boys and girls,” Heidi said.
Louie isn’t the only Christmas elf to visit Pocahontas County. Heidi’s class at Marlinton Elementary School has Aiden the Elf, who watches the students during the day.
Many children also have their own elves, including six-year-old Lexie Arbogast, of Hillsboro.
Lexie’s mom, Darlene, said the elf finds a way to make herself the center of attention.
“So far Twighlight Sparkle has toasted marshmallows, played cards with a toy moose, slept, and left [Lexie] a new game,” Darlene said.
Sometimes the elf has to pull double duty with siblings. Marlinton native Megan McGee Burgess said the family elf – Trevor Lee – monitors both of her children, Olivia and Clayton.
“We adopted him from Santa in November 2012, and he comes at Thanksgiving then leaves with Santa when he comes Christmas Eve. The kids truly believe that he watches them and reports to Santa every night while they sleep. They both love the elf and look forward to finding him each morning. They are very well behaved knowing Trevor is making notes about their behavior.
“He has mailed them a few letters and knows important things that are going on in their lives,” she continued. “Both kids know that a child cannot touch him or he will have to go to the elf hospital to get his Christmas magic back. It really is so sweet and has become our version of an elf Advent calendar as we count down the days ‘til Christmas.”
Along with traveling back and forth from the North Pole, the elves are able to travel with the children.
I was recently visited by my cousin, nine-year-old Reagan McConnell, and her mom, Kathy, of Deer Run. At some point Friday night, Reagan’s elf, Candy Cane, appeared at my house. Saturday morning when Reagan awoke, she found Candy Cane playing the piano in my living room.
Reagan was shocked to see that Candy Cane had followed her to Green Bank.
“She must have flown behind us and snuck in last night,” Reagan explained to me.
The next morning, Candy Cane was found playing with several stuffed animals. Reagan was worried the elf wouldn’t find her way back home, but I was later informed that Candy Cane did indeed make it back home to monitor Reagan.
The Elf on the Shelf is a tradition that began in 2005. The website, www.elfontheshelf.com has a place for the elves to get ideas of tricks and mischief they can cause while they are “scouting” for Santa.
The website also has copies of The Elf on the Shelf book and clothing for family elves.