His order for the Atlanta-area county, though, was in jest — a “gift to tired parents,” he said on Twitter.
Leonard, the chief judge of Cobb County Superior Court, tweeted his mock order on Thursday, poking fun at the taxing burden the lanky, stuffed red elves put on parents each holiday season. For children whose older siblings or cousins have not yet spoiled the truth about Santa, the Elf on the Shelf is known as the eyes and ears for the big man up North — reporting back in the month before Christmas if the children of a particular household have been naughty or nice. Each morning, the elves return to their assigned homes and settle into a new spot.
In actuality, parents often stay up well past their children’s bedtimes and set the scene for the following morning, each night attempting to be more creative and elaborate than the one before. (A production of “Wicked” for the elves? Busy Philipps did that in 2018. A hostage scene with “bad” milk? Halle Berry came up with that last year.)
It’s that burdensome onus on parents that inspired Leonard to jokingly banish the toy, which has been around since 2005.
“Tired of living in Elf on the Shelf tyranny? Not looking forward to the Elf forgetting to move and causing your kids emotional distress? I am a public servant and will take the heat for you,” he tweeted.
In his one-page “order,” Leonard pointed to the overwhelming disappointment little ones feel when the toys, also known as Santa’s Scout Elves, don’t move overnight. “[I]t leaves our children of tender years in states of extreme emotional distress,” he wrote.
Leonard “recalls a horrific incident in his own home when three children were sent to school in tears, with one child being labeled an ‘Elf Murderer’ and accused of making the elf ‘lose his magic,’" he wrote, referring to a rule that states the elf will lose its magic if it’s touched by a human. “The Court has no doubt that day of education was lost to everyone.”
It’s not just the probable anguish imposed on “vulnerable children” that spurred Leonard’s order, but also “supply chain issues” and the risks of spreading the coronavirus.
The former is true — the Lumistella Company, which makes the Elf on a Shelf and the accompanying children’s book, told CNN Business last week that in years past, nearly 100 percent of its inventory would be in the hands of retailers by now. This year, thanks to raw material and labor shortages in Asia, delayed cargo ships and fewer domestic truck drivers, stores have only 70 percent of the inventory. Christa Pitts, co-chief executive, said she expects the rest to arrive before Christmas.
The Lumistella Company, which is headquartered in Atlanta, responded to Leonard’s order on Monday in a “joint statement from the North Pole.”
“On behalf of The Elf on the Shelf Scout Elves, Santa would like to assure the children and families of Cobb County that the honorable Judge Leonard has no jurisdiction over Christmas cheer,” the statement said.
In the end, the legal “battle” was all in good fun. Leonard even qualified that “If you love your elf, keep your elf. No contempts.” The judge added that he is a fan of the toy “and our local company that has so generously supported so many local charities and done amazing things in our community.”
On Monday, he tweeted a selfie with an upside-down elf hanging from a seal.
The Lumistella Company felt equally benevolent.
“Santa has checked his list twice and Judge Leonard is still on the nice list. Despite this silly jest, his Scout Elf reports he’s actually a jolly good fellow.”