Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eat 'n Park -- Elf on the Shelf


If you're not familiar with Eat 'n Park, it's probably because you don't live in the tri-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If that's the case, I'll fill you in: it's a close relative to Perkins or Denny's because, while having other menu items, you can still order breakfast at any time of the day or night. Which brings me to the best part--it's open all night! This is why it was such an attractive destination for my friends and me during high school. Not only was the food good (Grilled Stickies a la mode....heaven!), it was pretty cheap for a high schooler's budget, and you could eat there at 2 a.m.! As a result, we would usually end up there after dances, games, ice skating trips, and sleepovers and the like.

I don't know why, but when you are 16, there is something so incredibly fun about staying up and eating a Chick'n Bac'n Delux in the middle of the night with your friends. There just is! I realize now that the waitresses who worked this overnight shift most likely found a group of teenagers who thought they were hilarious highly annoying. As an adult myself, I'm sure of it, in fact. As if the evil stares they shot at us from across the restaurant weren't enough evidences in themselves. I'm sure they preferred the weird old men drinking their coffee, who were the only other people in the restaurant at that time.

I did leave tips (my mom ingrained that in me) but we left other things as well--sculptures made out of leftover mashed potatoes, fries that were used as ammunition in an across-the-booth fight, and, best of all, the non-monetary "tips" we left on the back of our bills and place mats. I remember one of these in particular that my friend Carl and I left for a waitress named Pam. It went something like this:

The key to your life is that your name
spelled backwards is map.

I'm sure she found this piece of profound wisdom very helpful in her life. At least, I hope she did because it was meant with the most earnest sincerity.


We have a little elf like this who has visited our house for the last couple Christmas seasons. It's a girl elf (we know that because she's wearing a little skirt) and her name is Pom Pom. This year, in particular, since Sophie is more drawn in by the magic of Christmas, Pom Pom goes around our house doing crazy things. And, as much fun as it is to witness Sophie's joy and laughter as she finds Pom Pom each morning, I have begun to worry.

Just how long will the elf be joining us? Multiplying the number of years by the number of days in each Christmas season leaves me with a staggering number of scenarios that I will need to come up with for Pom Pom to engage in.

You may tell me not to worry, just repeat from year to year. To which I would answer that Sophie has a frighteningly good memory and she already asks a lot of pointed questions. I'm pretty certain that repetition would not go unnoticed.

The pressure of having to outdo myself each year is already beginning to weigh upon me. Suppose I can't do it! Suppose I crack under the strain! In an effort to give myself an out (or even just a break) from Pom Pom, my sister and I have created this list of scenarios. All of which begin with a letter from Santa stating:

  1. Pom Pom has been a victim of a freak accident in the toy workshop and is recovering from having a limb amputated. This could lead to many new scenarios during the next year when Pom Pom must learn to live with her new disability. I also think I could snip off one of her arms or legs with no problem.
  2. Pom Pom is in rehab this season. Great way to scare your children early with the dangers of drug use.
  3. Pom Pom  was in a skiing accident at the North Pole. A photo of Pom Pom in traction may also be included with this letter to allay any suspicions.
If planning to end the elf all together, these scenarios may come in handy:

  1. Pom Pom has been run over by a reindeer (it happened to Grandma in the popular carol, right?) It was fatal.
  2. Pom Pom was stabbed by a sharpened candy cane in an altercation with another elf.
Or, if you accidentally repeat a scenario and get busted for it, a letter could come from Santa explaining that Pom Pom has early onset dementia and should therefore be forgiven for any slip-ups she may make.

If the thought of orchestrating hundreds of Elf on the Shelf shenanigans makes you break into a nervous sweat, feel free to make full use of the above.

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