When Michele Spracklin’s Elf on the Shelf, Okard, first joined their family, she had no idea how much of an impact Okard would have on the Kitimat community, and not just their own family.
Spracklin said that Okard first appeared in their house Dec. 1, 2016. Her son, Aleck, woke up to see Okard sitting in his room, along with a book that explained who he was and why he was at their house.
The book also explained that Aleck got to name their elf, and Spracklin said she has no idea why, but for some reason “Okard” was the name he chose.
Since then, Okard’s shown up every year on Dec. 1, and leaves with Santa in his sleigh on Christmas Eve.
Spracklin said her son was wondering why he had an elf and some of his friends didn’t, and Spracklin said she was curious about that, too. However, after some research and discussion with Okard, they came to the conclusion that every house does have an elf, but some are just too shy to show themselves.
Spracklin said she’s very glad Okard isn’t shy and feels comfortable to show himself because he makes for a more joyful and adventurous holiday season.
“In our household, I told him I am perfectly fine with him having some healthy, fun shenanigans, because I think each elf should, you know, respect the family and what they wish for,” Spracklin said.
When Okard first appeared to them, Spracklin and her family were living in Fort St. John and were going to a nearby town to visit her son’s grandparents for Christmas.
“[My son] wasn’t sure if Okard knew where to go, but I’m like, well, you know, it’s like Santa, he knows where everybody is.” And sure enough, Spracklin said Okard followed them to the grandparents’ for that Christmas visit.
Traditionally, Spracklin said the elves are in the houses to keep an eye on the kids over the holiday season to report back to Santa on their behaviour. However, she added that Okard seems more intent on having fun around their house than spying on Aleck.
“Okard has toilet papered different parts of our house over the years, but he’s a good elf because he always cleans up after himself,” she said. “I think he loves [staying with us]. He has pretty much free rein of the whole house, to check in to, you know, anything that he wants to and play with with all of our new stuff that we have. And yeah, like I said, as long as he doesn’t break anything and he cleans up after himself, I’m pretty good, he can use anything in the house.”
In Fort St. John, Spracklin was part of an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ Facebook group, where community members would post photos of the silly and creative things their elves got into around the homes. So when Spracklin and her family moved to Kitimat the next year, she wanted to continue posting pictures of Okard to try to spread some laughs and fun throughout the community around the holidays.
Their first year here, she posted some pictures and got a few comments and reactions from community members. She wasn’t planning on doing photos again the next year, until someone posted on the Kitimat community Facebook page in early December, asking if anyone knew if the lady posting the elf pictures would be back again.
Spracklin was overjoyed to see that, and responded immediately saying she’d absolutely continue to do it.
“I love the comments that people — that you’d make them laugh or smile that day. And that’s just priceless.”
Spracklin said Okard has done lots of funny and creative things around their house, being the silly little elf he is. One time he put Googly eyes all over appliances and objects in their kitchen. Another time he drew faces on a pack of bananas.
He’s wrapped Aleck’s Christmas tree in his room with wrapping paper, had mini-marshmallow fights with other stuffed animals and toys, he’s played elf Twister, chess, video games, and he also usually takes the time to read one of Aleck’s books once a year.
One year, Spracklin said Okard got in a fair amount of trouble because he opened up a chocolate Advent calendar and ate somebody’s chocolate. However, she said his shenanigans are usually funny and creative, not mischievous, so they let him off with a stern warning.
Spracklin said the most creative set up she’s seen was when Okard built a cardboard slide off of their coffee table onto the floor, along with a cardboard sled to go down it. When she came into the room in the morning, she saw Okard and other toys from around the house taking turns going down it.
Spracklin said that unless there’s more than one elf in a house, they don’t usually interact with elves in other houses. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get their socialization in. She and Aleck have guessed there are times at night when he goes back to the North Pole to socialize, and he also gets to socialize with his elf friends the rest of the year when he’s at the North Pole.
They’re also not sure if he uses elf magic to make other toys in the house come alive to play, but she said he definitely interacts with them from time to time.
“This is his time to actually get out and experience a new environment and have fun.”
Spracklin is glad Okard is able to make other Kitimat community members as happy as he makes her family.
“We love seeing him every year. We look forward to December first coming every year,” she said. “He helps make Christmas more joyful, because I know it can be somewhat of a stressful time of year for some people.”
She said she’s been trying hard to get up early to get a picture of his shenanigans out to the community, so people get a fun photo to see first thing in the morning.
“There are people that like to get up and see his picture first thing before they leave for work, and have a good laugh and a fun start to the day.”
And while she doesn’t share the comments she gets with him, she think she’ll start doing so this year so he can see the joy he’s bringing to others, as well.
“I’m sure [Okard] will be glad — once he knows how popular he is — that he’s bringing fun and joy to the entire community, and not just this one household.”
Spracklin hopes other people will post pictures of their elves, too, one day, even if it’s not daily like Okard’s. However, she said as long as Okard keeps showing up, she’ll keep posting pictures of his silly shenanigans.
“I don’t get a ton of comments or reactions on the pictures, but that woman asking if I was going to keep posting showed me that people really did like them,” she said. “So even if it just brings one or two people joy, that’s what the whole things’s about, is sharing that joy.”