Avert those eyes, please. Things are going to get ugly.
You may have heard rumblings about the Elf.
This is a creature whose celebrity ascent has been meteoric. Within seven years of his birth, the Elf has scored his own Web site, Twitter account, $16 million in sales for 2011, an annual growth rate of 149 percent and a movie deal. Plus, he conquered Manhattan as a gargantuan balloon in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
TMZ has been chasing rumors all week that he’s holed up at Chateau Marmont with Taylor Swift.
Christa, a former QVC host, is one of the Elf’s creators.
“When we were growing up, there was an elf in our home. It was our Christmas tradition,” she told me from the Elf offices in Marietta, Ga. “We are the Southern branch of the North Pole.”
Not familiar with this “tradition,” as the Elf’s online CV calls it? (Or La Tradicion, in the español version of his back story.) No, neither was I.
Nor had most of America heard about the December magic that Christa and her sister, Chanda Bell, two gorgeous Georgia peaches, had grown up with.
Their mother, Carol Aebersold, introduced a little elf into their lives the day after Thanksgiving. The Elf watched them all day long from a perch somewhere in their house. Like the monitoring cameras all over cities today, only cuter.
At night, he flew back to the North Pole to report on their behavior to Santa. When they woke up, he was in a different spot to spy on them.
“And when we went to college and left the house, we’d talk about the Elf, and no one else had heard of this or was doing it,” Christa said.
So mom wrote a poem about the Elf and his Big Brotherly ways. The sisters helped turn the poem into a book and a little, old-fashioned Elf doll. Publishers, manufacturers and guys in fancy suits wielding flowcharts rejected the Elf concept. So the women maxed out their credit cards to self-publish the book and create the toy, which sold out at every trade show they visited.
The Elf and his story exploded. American parents ate this up. Move over Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. There’s another mythical creature who needs care and feeding.
My family invited the Elf into our lives three years ago. (I was desperate for some help; my boys were being monsters.) It’s a Faustian deal. First, you get this amazing disciplinary tool. My little heathens instantly turned into angels the moment I said, “The Elf is watching.” Not like the abstract “Santa is watching.” This was a real, actual thing, staring down at them with dead eyes, perched on the curtain rod, then the bookshelf, then swinging from the chandelier. I was beginning to fear withdrawal come January.
And here’s where it goes horribly wrong. Because Americans have a really hard time keeping things simple, be it Christmas lights, Sweet 16 parties, weddings or Elves.