Six Literary Alternatives to the Elf on a Shelf
You probably know about “The Elf on a Shelf,” a toy that parents can use to convince kids that a creepy elf is watching their every move. Which is basically the plot of George Orwell’s 1984, right? So we wondered…what other forms of Thing-on-a-Thing-based holiday behavior modification could be taken from classic and contemporary literature? The possiblities are endless… or at least six.
THE WHITE WHALE ON THE SCALE
Worried about your significant other’s tendency to overdue it on holiday treats? Simply place this replica of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick on the bathroom scale, as a reminder that too much blubber is attractive only on aquatic mammals (and sometimes not even then).
THE THRONE ON THE PHONE
Nothing’s more annoying during holiday meals than somebody constantly texting, checking email, and tweeting at the dinner table. Solution? Place the offender’s phone under this scale model of that crazy-ass sword-throne from George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s a pointed reminder (literally) to keep hands off the smartphone, and to enjoy the family togetherness that’s the true joy of the holiday season (a good time to form alliances or plot an assassination, btw).
OLIVER SACKS ON THE RACKS
Tired of guests wiping their hands on your good towels, even though you’ve provided perfectly serviceable holiday-themed guest towels? Oliver Sacks, beloved neurologist and author of dozens of books about crazy behavior, can help. Simply put this figurine of Dr. Sacks on your towel rack; poised to take notes for his next best seller, his unnervingly clincial presence will convince everyone to dry their hands elsewhere.
JANE EYRE ON THE CHAIR
You don’t need your favorite chair or sofa to end up covered with cookie crumbs, stained with spilled wine, or smeared with candy. Which is why you should use this miniature Jane Eyre to discourage sloppy visitors from setting their keisters on your best furniture. Jane is depicted begging for food, just as she did after fleeing from that would-be bigamist Rochester. It’s a posture that will inevitably trigger people’s instincts to move on without making eye contact.
THE BLACK CAT ON THE MAT
There comes a point during every holiday season when it’s like, enough with the visiting and well-wishing already. That’s when you call on one-eyed Pluto, the vengeful title character from Edgar Allen Poe’s chilling tale “The Black Cat.” Put this full-size facsimile on your doormat, and nobody will want to approach, not even carolers or bill collectors. And for those who still insist on paying a call, simply invite them to the basement for some Amontillado.
LENNIE SMALL IN THE HALL
Is it a good idea to place a life-size effigy of a depression-era migrant worker manchild in your hallway or vestibule? Quite possibly not. But this tragic figure from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men could be a poignant statement about speculative capitalism producing an economic collapse which wrecks the lives of ordinary folk. Or perhaps it will trigger compassion towards the financially disadvantaged who are unable to enjoy the pleasures of the season. No…no, it’s just weird. A mistake. Get him out of there. He needs his own place. But first…maybe tell him about the rabbits.
RICK CHILLOT is a former baby and current writer and editor at Quirk Books. He has contributed to magazines such as Psychology Today, Parenting, Mental Floss, and Prevention. In his twenty-plus years in publishing he’s interviewed about a jillion scientists and doctors and therefore had no need to consult any of them for this book.