He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He’s worse than the NSA. And how, exactly, does Santa know if you’ve been bad or good? It’s because of the Elf on the Shelf, of course. He’s Santa’s own nanny-cam, spying on kids and reporting back to the North Pole on their activities.
According to the self-publishing/toy/video empire launched by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, in their 2005 book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, each copy of which comes accompanied by a “pixie scout” doll in a red leotard, the pointy-eared spies return to Santa’s workshop every night, then back to your house, where they find a new perch (thanks to sneaky parents). Each family activates its own elf by giving it a name, but you kids can’t touch the pixie, lest it lose its Christmas magic. Give the authors credit: within a few years, their book became a line of toys, a cartoon TV special, and even a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon.