Your Own Private Elf

You probably are familiar with the story of Elf on the Shelf.   It is a holiday collection of story book and elf that families break out each holiday season.  The book tells the tale of how Santa uses these tiny pixie elves to create his naughty and nice list.  The story is told in rhyme and provides all the details on how the elves operate and their rules.  You see, each elf has magic that is activated when the child names the elf.  This magic allows the elf to fly to the North Pole each night while the family sleeps to report back to Santa.  In the morning he is back in your house in a new perch to observe what happens.  Part of the fun of the elf is finding the new hiding place each morning.   The elf sees and hears everything and you can talk to him and tell him all the things Santa needs to know.  But be cautioned about touching the elf, if touched the magic may disappear and Santa will no longer get that important report.  The elf usually visits the family starting around Thanksgiving and stays until returning to the North Pole for good on Christmas.  The elf might be just the motivation needed to keep a precocious child focused on being good.

I had heard from family and friends about the amazing power this little Santa’s helper has over children at the holidays.  I assumed (incorrectly) that this tradition had been around since the 50s or 60s.  This was based on its familiarity and the look of the elf.  Turns out that it is a fairly recent tradition.  The story starts in 2005.  The book and doll are the creation of a mother/daughter team- Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell.  They wrote the story and created the legend to accompany the doll.  No publishing company was interested so they decided to self-publish.  Creating their own company they started with about 300 in the initial publication.  Interest took off and by 2010 they published 1.5 million copies!  Their company is a Fortune 500 story of success and continues to succeed.  Today you can find the Elf on the Shelf in Barnes and Noble and on-line easily.  The story led to the creation of a successful TV special, An Elf’s Story.  The official website for the Elf on the Shelf is pretty great.  On the site you can register your elf’s name and access a scrapbook and blog specific to your elf.  You can also send messages to Santa, view videos, check-out the progress on all those toys, and search the interactive map of the North Pole.  It is definitely worth a look, even if you don’t have an elf in your house.

Where is the North Pole?

Santa lives there, but where exactly is the North Pole?  Geographically speaking it is located at exactly 90 degrees North latitude.  It is the point on our globe where axis comes to the surface.  It is the only place on the planet where all turns lead South.  There is no actual land located at the North Pole.  It is a large frozen mass of ocean.  No native peoples ever lived there, the closest being over 500 miles to the South in Nunavut in Canada.  Right now it is night at the North Pole.  Sunrise will come near the Spring Equinox and sunset won’t come until the Autumnal Equinox in September.  That’s right, only one single day in a whole year.  There is also no local time at the North Pole.  It doesn’t really sound like the place Santa and his elves would be making so much joy.  But of course they could all be a hidden magical part of the North Pole, or maybe one of the other North Poles.

There’s North Pole, New York.  This tiny town is in the Adirondack mountains.  They claim to have over a 90% chance of a white Christmas.  Santa’s Workshop is actually located there!  It opened in 1949 and may be one of the oldest theme parks in the United States.  You can check out all the details at their website- Santa’s Workshop.

There’s also North Pole, Alaska located just outside Fairbanks.  It is another small town.  They host the Santa Claus House- a gift shop with the world’s largest Santa Claus Statue.  Christmas is all through the town.  Streets have holiday themed names. The fire trucks are all red and the municipal vehicles, including cops, are all green and white.  Christmas is everywhere in North Pole.  They even have a professional roller derby team named the North Pole Babes in Toyland.  You can plan a trip now, just visit the town’s official site- North Pole, Alaska.