I was eating a two-heeled sandwich, and wondering where the twist tie went. I could feel a heat on the back of my head, and I turned around to find Minnie the Elf starring me down.

I was eating a two-heeled sandwich, wondering where the twist tie went. I could feel a heat on the back of my head, and I turned to find Minnie the Elf starring me down.

I jumped and cursed. She gets me every year.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Elf on the Shelf, the Christmas elf who appears in different spots around the house each holiday to judge the children.

It's equal parts fun tradition and creepy.

The story goes that she returns to the North Pole each night to tell Santa everything that happened that day. She's like Krampus, Santa's devilish sidekick who, legend has it, tortures the naughty kids while Santa rewards the good ones. But she looks much more friendly and has less blood lust.

The most important thing is that the kids love her. So, each night she finds a new hiding spot around the house, and they wake up excited to find where she went. When she didn't appear at the start of the holiday season, my oldest was a little worried. But I assured her that Minnie would make a comeback at some point.

"The big wigs at the North Pole probably are cutting down on elf hours to save money," I said. "The economy, am I right?"

She rolled her eyes, and Minnie appeared the next day.

One night, my 2-year-old accidentally knocked her sister's piggy bank off a shelf, and it broke. The next morning, Minnie was sitting in her room by her piggy bank.

"Do you think Minnie saw what you did to your sister's piggy bank?" I asked in the morning.

"No, she was just watching me sleep," she replied with no hint of weirdness. Accidents don't automatically put you on the naughty list, her older sister chimed in.

"What kind of things do get you on the naughty list?" I asked.

My 5-year-old thought for a moment. "Well, being mean to people. And not doing what your mommy and daddy tell you to do," she replied.

"What about being nice to your sister?" I asked.

"Well, I try to be nice to my sister," my 2-year-old responded. "But sometimes I can't."

Her sister shrugged her shoulders and nodded in agreement.

"What do you think Santa thinks about that?" I asked.

"He is OK with it. He probably has a sister, too," my oldest said. "I mean, we're trying to be good."

We all agreed, the effort is the most important part.

"What about when Christmas is over?" I asked. "Will it be hard to be good?"

My oldest shook her head. "No, the key is to try and be good all of the time. That way you don't have to worry about it."

David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at david.manley@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @DaveManley