By Sue Murphy
I don’t know how things fare with our national security, but I can tell you one thing: No one’s going to be surreptitiously walking off with one of Mrs. Squirrel’s tea cozies any time soon.
When Santa’s elves finish making their toys, the gifts must be packaged for store display. Although the entire assemblage of Mrs. Squirrel’s Tiny Tree House will eventually take up only four inches of home floor space, packaging elves (a different breed schooled in visual sleight-of-hand and liability law) insist that it commands a full 24 inches of shelf space. The Tree House itself is situated front and center, surrounded by all of the necessary squirrel tree house accoutrements, each item encased in a separate clear plastic bubble. The four acorn cups and saucers, the miniature teapot, every single tiny spoon and jam jar is spread out against a colorful cardboard backdrop.
At this point, the Squirrel Tree House is indeed a tiny sight to behold. Your challenge as the new owner is to get everything out of the box. The plastic showcase bubble must be separated from the cardboard. Odd-shaped items will be so tightly wedged into their slots that they will have to be forcibly jettisoned to freedom. Poor Mrs. Squirrel will come bound by the neck and lower extremities with plastic bands that must be cut with scissors. The tea table is securely held into prime presentation position by a twist tie, scotch tape and a plastic gizmo that has to be turned and turned and turned until it snaps. It will take your child one minute to unwrap this gift and you will spend the next 15 minutes twisting and cutting, tearing and swearing (to yourself) while your child stands next to you saying, “Hurry, Daddy!” This is when you’ll look across the expanse of remaining gifts and sigh.
If Buddy the Elf was really serious about getting a second job, he could hire himself out to take care of all this. Imagine that you have just unwrapped Gift #3 (the Mousetrap game that has 27 hinge-locked pieces) and you get a text: “Psst … For a price, I’ll come to your house right now and de-elf the rest of the toys.” What price? Would it matter at that point? You know that half of the upcoming gifts (Santa left you a cheat list) will require batteries positioned in compartments that must be opened with screwdrivers, some flathead, some Phillips. Your intel says there’s a Barbie Dream House and a Hot Wheels Firewall Loop of Death in your future that will come with 10 pages of barely decipherable directions for their assembly. Tabs must be put into slots, little plastic pieces wrenched from staging brackets, and Barbie won’t truly feel at home until you place all 100 stickers on the tiny plastic drums that will miraculously become doll-sized cans of soda and hairspray. It’s a lot, my friends.
Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that Buddy could do this all by himself. I mean, the man’s not Santa Claus. Still, he could recruit other forward-thinking elves who perhaps weren’t all that happy at Elf Practice and were ready to strike out on their own. Himself De-Elf, LTD. I think it could work.
Buddy might not have time to acquire all of the necessary business licenses before Dec. 25, 2018, so I’d plan on de-elfing yourself this time around. Scissors, screwdrivers, batteries, and 27 man hours of work. You can do it. There’s an extra cup of nog at the finish line.