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Chris DeMuth Jr. is the founder of Rangeley Capital LLC. Rangeley is an investment firm that focuses on event driven, value-oriented investment opportunities. Prior to founding Rangeley Capital, Mr. DeMuth spent his career as a securities analyst for several hedge funds and proprietary trading... More
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  • The Elf Must Die 9 comments
    Dec 9, 2013 2:48 PM

    The ?#@*&%! Elf on the Shelf and the Tragedy of the Commons*

    My name is Chris and I have an Elf on the Shelf, specifically one named "Elfie". I do not like Elfie. I do not want Elfie. But every day between now and Christmas, I will be hiding Elfie in different, amusing locales around our home. Some days, my lovely wife might even be found cooking miniature meals for the creepy little elf. Why? Because my children's friends told them that this elf comes and visits their homes and watches them and reports back whether they are good or not.

    What is there to object to? I would like to start with: everything. Based on my preference for liberty and privacy, I don't want some elf narcing on me for Santa. We are up in arms over NSA surveillance and should be similarly up in arms over elven stooges in our own homes. This is quite at one with the words of the holiday lyrics that are at the same time the most vapid and stalkerish,

    He sees you when you're sleeping
    He knows when you're awake
    He knows if you've been bad or good
    So be good for goodness sake

    With all due respect to Santa, his elf, and blissful childhood memories, F that. You want some perfect stranger knowing when you're sleeping and when you're awake? Reflect on how closely he has to be watching and what else he'll be watching while he's at it. Oh, and it isn't for goodness sake. It is - right there in the next stanza - for the sake of receipt of said "little tin horns and little toy drums". This is the reason why you're expected to be nice and not naughty. That is what is on his twice checked list. As per the menacing warning: you better watch out.

    For those who celebrate Christmas, this is essentially inconsistent or opposite most everything one can find in the gospel. We are sinners (not perfect, like the elf wants to see). We deserve nothing based on our good works (but receive a gift of salvation). The whole meaning of Christmas is not about greedy little brats whose toylust invariably leads to manipulations from parents who sooner or later break down with wild eyed threats, of "STOP THAT THIS MINUTE OR I'M TELLING THE ELF!" None of Jesus Christ's immediate relatives ever said that in the days leading up to Christmas.

    You know the mugs that say, "world's best dad" or "#1 dad"? Statistically, this is a low probability claim. It is reasonably likely that the actual #1 dad in the world does not own that mug. However, we all want to think of ourselves as occupying such a place in the dad hierarchy. As long as we are blissfully ignorant of whatever other better dads are doing, then everything is fine. The problem, raised by this little elf bastard, is that the kids keep reporting back on whatever increasingly clever things their friends' elves have done.

    Enough. It is time to stop. Parents need to band together to mutually disarm. There are more children being born every day. If you don't tell them about the elf, then I won't either. Let's end this tradition or as it were, kill the elf in the cradle.

    *This will not make any sense if you lack kids under 5. Feel lucky if you don't know about this.

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Comments (9)
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  • jaginger
    , contributor
    Comments (794) | Send Message
    LOL! Of course, with daughters 2 and 6, we've got one of those also. I have successfully pawned off all elf-related responsibilities to my wife, so I can fully enjoy your column without my stress levels rising involuntarily.
    9 Dec 2013, 02:56 PM Reply Like
  • beboprocksteady
    , contributor
    Comments (95) | Send Message
    If a parent tries to use this for discipline, it is probably going to backfire because ultimately it comes back to the parents' discipline. If you use the elf to threaten that bad behavior will result in no presents, what happens if the kids behave bad anyway? If you want the kids to learn their lesson, you will have to withhold their presents, but not many parents will actually do that. Result: kids behave poorly, still get presents, and learn that they do not, in fact, have to behave well to get what they want.
    9 Dec 2013, 03:14 PM Reply Like
  • Jerbear
    , contributor
    Comments (950) | Send Message
    I hid ours in the trash can last year. For some reason he hasn't returned this year.
    9 Dec 2013, 03:24 PM Reply Like
  • Terrier Investing
    , contributor
    Comments (127) | Send Message
    this is !@#$ing hilarious. I hate Elfie too. My kids will never have Elfie. A miniature Warren Buffett action figure perhaps, but not Elfie.
    9 Dec 2013, 04:45 PM Reply Like
  • sheldond
    , contributor
    Comments (1314) | Send Message
    Elfie is going to get you if you don't behave Chris.


    I heard my elf Chilly talking in hushed tones on the telephone to an Elfie. I didn't feel good about their conversation. Luckily that Krav Maga should help you out.


    On a serious note the thing I hate is my kid seeing the display of hundreds of elfs on the shelf at the bookstore.....kinda ruins the magic.....


    One parent i know set up their elf with a fishing rod and a piece of yarn fishing goldfish out of the toilet.


    but for another ridiculous idea maybe in the future every child will be given elf on the shelf and the government will use them to make sure we act properly.


    At least somebody is making a profit.


    My most rambling post ever on SA






    PS while on a walk i was attacked by a squirrel.........I sized up the situation and used the instinctive fighting techniques from the video you posted. Although the furry assailant drew blood from my hand, my aggressive maneuvers and high pitched man chant scream scared the attacker off. Just wanted to say thanks.......
    9 Dec 2013, 07:23 PM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (512) | Send Message
    Sheldon, I've found that when an assailant charges, a front kick to the nads followed by a hammer fist to the back of the head, when they double over, almost always ends the confrontation right then and there. However it might not be as effective on squirrels. They are tough rodents.


    Ref Elfie: Never introduced the concept to my children, lucky for me. With my luck, if I had, it probably would have been shot when I came home from work. You know, walking through the house minding my own, on my way to sit down and kick the boots off. Turn the corner or open the door to the sun room, forget that I had the f'n elf sitting on a particular piece of furniture or shelf, catch site of elf, clear leather, speed rock, double tap. Try explaining that one to your spouse. "That damn elf was creepy...."


    On a related topic, my wife and I liberated the head of a CPR mannequin in our college days. We still have it. On occasion it makes an appearance in unexpected areas. I am not ashamed to admit that it has scared the begeebies out of me a few times.(I was unarmed.)
    12 Dec 2014, 01:34 AM Reply Like
  • bazooooka
    , contributor
    Comments (3642) | Send Message
    "Elfie" seems like he'd be friends with "Chucky"...
    12 Dec 2014, 03:45 AM Reply Like
  • TimeOnTarget
    , contributor
    Comments (3393) | Send Message
    Since the kids, I never get to use the only Christmas decorations I have ever really liked. They are these pottery-like decorations-- painted clay figures, I guess. Santa and Mrs. Claus. Both in red jackets. Unbuttoned red jackets that gape open. Anatomically correct. Mrs. Claus evidently just had a bikini wax. Ever so tasteful.
    12 Dec 2014, 08:56 AM Reply Like
  • drew111
    , contributor
    Comments (512) | Send Message
    A completely tasteless take on "elf on the shelf", rated pg-13

    25 Dec 2014, 10:32 AM Reply Like
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