NEW YORK (AP) — Carly Kerby, a mom of four girls, doesn't have the greatest track record as the Tooth Fairy, but it was another family tradition that nearly did her in: The Elf on the Shelf.
In case you've been hitting the egg nog a little too hard all these years, the elf is a big seller. It involves a picture book and a stuffed, felt elf that serves as a scout for Santa and has to be moved stealthily every night, traditionally around Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
The elf's mission? To report back to the boss in red on who's been naughty or nice. After eight years on the market, more than 6 million of the kits, book and elf, have been sold, and it has climbed high on best-seller lists, with two sexes and different skin tones now available.
Kerby, in Salt Lake City, thought it sounded like fun when she took it on last Christmas.
"My first epic mistake was not knowing that a female elf existed," she said. "My daughters were devastated that their elf was a boy and not a girl. Heaven forbid we have anything boy-related in our house. It went downhill from there."
She forgot to move it for days and days. And her youngest, at 18 months, loves to grab it King Kong-style, a no-no by elf rules.
"Everyone here freaks out because they read the book and it says if you touch it the magic is gone," Kerby said. "It really creates a lot of drama, but with four daughters, everything is drama!"
While, clearly, millions of people enjoy their elves on shelves, a backlash has bubbled up. There are anti-elf rants on Facebook and raunchy, bawdy and bloody visuals on Tumblr and Instagram. One photo circulating shows a green Grinch hat tied to the head of a large dog with one of those damning cardboard signs around his neck that reads: "I ate your Elf on the Shelf."