Elf on the Shelf is totally creepy and it’s a phenomena that’s turned Facebook into Elfbook. But until the other day, I had absolutely no idea about their story and now I absolutely adore those multi-ethnic creepers.
I was asked to participate in an Elf on the Shelf round up for a site that I write for, but I had to decline. My kid is a few months shy of turning ten and we never introduced the concept of an Elf stalker reporting back to Santa. Instead, we used store cameras and called them “Santa Cams’ with a live feed to the North Pole. First, it was cheaper and second Elf barely existed when the Kid was tiny and it wasn’t on our radar.
After I was asked to participate, I started thinking about why Elf never became apart of our family tradition, so I started looking into how it was published and when. What I found was a tremendous story about a mother who had hit rock bottom, a daughter who encouraged her mother to become the writer she wanted to be, and a stream of publishing rejections that eventually became an incredible success story.
The Elf on The Shelf Story
Elf on the Shelf got it’s start in 2005 as a self-published book after being rejected by every major publishing house. According to the founders, this was because the mother and daughter team were not famous, the book rhymes, and the publishing industry had no idea what to do with them. Elf was a family tradition started by Carol Aebersold’s parents which she then continued on with her children. One, regular day Carol sat down with Chanda, her adult daughter, to tell her about how low she felt. It was Chanda’s suggestion that her mother write a book.
Carol said to Chanda “Oh, the book shelves are full of books people don’t read and I don’t have anything to say.”
Chanda pushed her mother to take their family elf and share it; which they eventually did by writing the book together and self-publishing. 30 Million+ copies later, you know what happened.
Aren’t You Looking at Those Creepers Differently
Me too! Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?! It’s obvious that the path to success comes with a huge amount of failure, but it’s true. More times than not, we think that because “someone else has already done it” or that because the “book shelves are lined” than we couldn’t possibly have anything to offer. No, no, of course not.
Yes, we do have something to offer. I do, you do, we all do. It may not be Elf on the Shelf worldwide phenomena, but it’s valid nonetheless. Ending before you’ve even started is a loser’s game. Failing so hard that it hurts, stings, and cripples you can be the rejection that makes you passionate about finding the one time that you will succeed. Because there are a million ways to fuck-up, but they all lead to the one way that will work.
Join These Other Failures
- Steve Jobs was fired from his own company.
- Stephen King submitted Carrie 30 times before his wife rescued it from the trash and said try one more time.
- J.K. Rowling was on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book.
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
- Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- Lucille Ball was told to seek another profession from her acting coaches.
- Theodor Seuss Giesel’s first book was rejected 27 times before he became Dr. Seuss.
- Oprah was fired from a reporting gig because she was terrible at it.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Failure, Tomas Edison
Go get ‘em, tiger!