Crime Doesn’t Take a Holiday

Even this guy has his limits.
Even this guy has his limits.

The people at the end of our street still have their Christmas decorations up and even the decorations are resentful. The centerpiece of the display, a large, light-up Cookie Monster dressed as Santa, fell over last week, passed out face first in the mud.

“See what Cookie Monster is doing?” I told my son. “They did that a lot in the 1960s. It’s called passive resistance.”

“I thought it was called ‘drunk,’” the boy replied.

How can you not love this kid?

And he was right! The furry blue fellow did look like he was on the tail end of a bender. You couldn’t blame Cookie Monster for his transgression, either; his holiday ended three months ago.

There is little that offends me more than the sight of Christmas decorations up past the third week of January. I just can’t comprehend how something so obvious — so on display — could be ignored for so long.

I love Christmas, but once it’s over, it’s over. I make sure of it. When New Year’s Day rolls around, the Allegra house is abuzz with Christmas purging. Boxes are pulled out of the attic, promptly filled, and shoved back in. The tree is denuded and dragged to the curb. Within hours, my house returns to its simpler, un-tinseled self.

I don’t expect this level of discipline from everyone – sadly, we all can’t be persnickety, anal-retentive neatnicks – but I do expect everybody to pack up their outdoor mangers before Easter arrives. Whenever they don’t, it takes all of my willpower to not roll down the car window and bellow, “Jesus isn’t a baby anymore, doofus! He’s in his thirties and about to be murdered!”

My wife, Ellen, agrees with me in principle. She does not, however, share my passion. When I discuss our neighbors’ crimes against the neighborhood, she tries not to roll her eyes too often.

Alex, on the other hand, has reached an age where he likes to stir me up. He takes pleasure in parroting my outrage. When I drive him to school in the morning and we pass The Christmas House, he is the one to get the ball rolling.

“They have their candy cane lights out!” he shouted, aghast, as if seeing this eyesore for the first time. “When are they going to put them away? It’s March!”

“I know!” I shouted back as if this conversation hasn’t happened at least 30 times before. “Those people should be arrested!”

“They should!” Alex shouted again.

He then grew thoughtful. At that moment, I spotted a glimmer in the boy’s eye.

A few weeks before before this particular conversation, I borrowed a set of DVDs from my parents. It was the first season of an old TV show I was certain my son would love — and I was right. Hardly a night went by when Alex and I didn’t watch an episode.

I soon heard the show’s iconic opening line.

“This is the city,” Alex said in a gruff monotone. For what it’s worth, no eight year old on earth does a better Jack Webb impression. “Los Angeles, California.”

“Or New Jersey.” I interjected in my own Jack Webb voice.

“Or New Jersey,” he said. “People live here. They go to work. They go to school.”

“They put up Christmas decorations,” I added. “When they stay up too long, that’s when I come in. I carry a badge.”

“Dum Da Dum Dum!” we boomed in unison. “Dum Da Dum Dum DUMMM!”

My outrage was replaced with unbridled joy. I couldn’t help but weave a wonderful fantasy in my mind: My son and I were partners — Dragnet Holiday Decoration Detectives — running people downtown to answer for their long ignored twinkling lights and loitering Santas.

How awesome would that be? And what a great father/son bonding thing!

“We could maybe even send them to Guantanamo,” I heard myself say aloud.

“What?” Alex asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied absently. Then a smile crept across my face as the bombast of our theme song echoed in my brain.

119 Replies to “Crime Doesn’t Take a Holiday”

  1. Mike, If you didn’t have a lazy neighbor, you wouldn’t have a post today. So, there may be some benefit to the neighbor’s laziness. Just saying. 🙂 And on an aside, since I’ve written a detective series that spoofs Dragnet for the eight and under crowd, I can tell you that the opening of the show and flash of Joe Friday’s badge (714) always puts a smile on my face. Not to mention that AWESOME opening music.

      1. The music is so awesome. And that deadpan dialogue is just incredible. Wilcox & Griswold are great. They’ve been assigned to their second case, The Case of the Poached Egg, and their scrambling to crack this case before they have an omelet on their hands. Or worse, a bucket of fried chicken!

  2. It’s too bad you don’t live in a gated/Ft Knox community like I do… where the POA has nothing better to do than make others follow the rules! Those eye sores would have received a letter of warning on Feb 1, then a visit from board members on March 1 and if they are still up April 1, they are F I N E D! Yep! fined! Gotta love my POA! That can be very annoying and I have to say… I would be just as irritated as you are!
    Dum Da Dum Dum! he he! I watched.. ahem “new” episodes of Dragnet when I was a kid with my grandparents. My grandmother just LOVED Sergeant Joe Friday! It was cutting edge with the stories all being “true” and all.. you know? 😉

    1. I don’t think I could ever do the gated community thing. I’m not the kind of person who takes comfort in knowing that a Homeowner Association is scrutinizing my every move.

      That said, your Association is far more tolerant that I ever could be. Delinquent Decorators don’t get fined until April?!

      Won’t somebody think of the children?!

      1. Well since we are rule followers, we have no issue with the POA. And usually a letter does the trick. I kind of like my neighbors looking out for rule breakers and it feels safe where we live. I worry less about bad people! (delinquent decorators not withstanding) 😛

      2. Yep! People who do not mow their yard! Who park on the street in fire zones and drive too fast through the neighborhood when we have kiddos out playing and deer that walk around! I would say that is worse or just as bad… depending on how you look at it! :-/

    1. I always knew you were good people, Susan.

      I don’t get the outdoor decoration thing. No one ever told these folks that they HAD to put them up. Personally, I devote all of my decorating efforts to the inside of my house.

      An, hey, if Christmas lovers wanna keep their indoor decorations up year ’round, they can go ahead. I’ll never befriend these people, but they can go ahead.

      But the outdoor stuff? That’s a community issue. It’s gotta go.

  3. My husband is a “persnickety, anal-retentive neat nick”, so Christmas decorations are usually down in our house by the end of the first week of January. The exception are the outdoor lights which often stay up until March due to ice and snow making their removal hazardous to life and limb. Just to stir you up though, here’s a thought… it’s only about 268 days until Christmas, so maybe your neighbors are just decorating early 🙂

  4. Can’t fool a kid – they blurt out reality.
    “He’s in his thirties…” Hilarious observation…some just can ‘t let their kid grow up.
    Dragnet Holiday Decoration Detectives. it is an awesome idea. (Called the HOA here, but they don’t have that great theme song)
    (Has anyone checked all those faded newspapers on their lawn, the mail flowing out of their mailbox…..)

    1. HOAs should get their own theme songs. And marching bands!

      Think about it: All Decorating Delinquents would shudder upon hearing the oompah of sousaphones — for they would know that their Santas and reindeer are about fall victim a torch- and pitchfork-wielding mob.

  5. Our neighbors have a big plastic light-up Santa that stays in their front yard year-round (and half the time he gets blown over and spends weeks lying on his face). At least they only plug it in in December.

    Sounds like you have quite the awesome kid there.

  6. This year seems to be worse and I wondered if it was because of the non-stop snow? Anyhow, that’s no excuse! Past the third week in January, mangers are mangy and Santa needs some resolutions . . . Very funny post.

  7. I’m going to show this post to my husband. I’ve been asking him to take down our outside Christmas lights for weeks. “It’s too cold,” he says. “You can’t even see them.”

    I’ve told him this weekend it will happen or there will be consequences. As for me, I’m more than willing to help, but I need his height. Me up on a ladder would not be pretty. (I think you know a little something about self injuries; those of us who break noses on fridge doors and nearly slice off our fingers must stick together, right?)

    So maybe this will sway him. I’ll tell him if he doesn’t comply, a father-son lawman team will hunt him down…

    1. “There will be consequences.” Sounds ominous. I love it!

      The consequence I would recommend would be a BB to the butt. This BB, of course, should be fired from a Red Rider 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle (with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time).

      I think it would be apropos for the occasion, wouldn’t you agree?

  8. I agree. Nothing worse than Christmas lights in June (or January, February, March, April, or May). The absolute worse is when they turn the lights on at night. Now that needs decoration detectives. Still, a wonderful story. Loved Dragnet when I was a kid. “One Adam-12 out!”

  9. I am with you, Mike. New Year’s is the official end of Christmas! And Halloween decorations are gone by November 1st.

      1. I think part of what made the series so good is the dialogue…listening to it without picture would have been perfect. I watched them in black and white….love that vintage stuff!

      2. Dragnet was the perfect radio show. That fast, clippy dialogue painted a picture better than any moving image could. (Besides, Webb had a great cop voice, but he wasn’t much of an actor. He never seemed comfortable in front of the camera.)

  10. Hilarious! Love the idea of decking those still bedecked with decorations long past their dismantling date. In San Francisco, my son and I reserve our “I can’t believe it!” statements for those who leave garbage in our garden out front. He usually says “We’ve to put a sign out here, saying ‘Smile! You’re being watched!'” Perhaps we should start imitating Jack Webb…….

    Oh, and the BKPTSD post isn’t going to be happening anytime in the near future. I’ve been stretched to breaking. !!!!!#$%@&&!! Did you hear that? That was me breaking….

    1. Something tells me your boy would have a fine Jack Webb impression.

      No probs on the BKPTSD, but if you could nail down a possible date for such a post, we could create a kick-booty blog hop thing.

  11. So is your neighbor the reading sort? That is, does this latest post risk Cookie Monster remaining prone in the yard until Halloween to make some obscure Amendment point? The DHDD clearly needs a company car or at least matching scooters. And really cool hats. And, you know, badges.

    1. I seriously doubt that my neighbor reads this blog, but to be safe, I abstained from posting picture of his front lawn.

      Fully disclosure: I *did* take a picture of his front lawn and I *did* plan to include it with this post, but my wife nixed the idea. Whatta party-pooper!

      1. That might have been a good call. The mere idea of Cookie Monster passed out in the yard is traumatic enough, I say, having dealt with neighbors and such. Still, feel free to post that image on my Facebook page anytime you feel evil.

  12. You two are awesome.

    And I’m really, really glad you’re in New Jersey and not here, where my husband is starting a campaign to call those things on our eaves “strings of Easter bulbs.” In his defense, icicle lights were meteorologically appropriate until just yesterday.

    Here’s a thought: Hide real, raw Easter eggs in their Christmas decorations and tell them the week after.That should get some kind of reaction!

      1. Talk to that man I married.

        And don’t get me started on plastic-fantastic creche displays. Sheep shouldn’t blink.

  13. There is a house near mine that has perma-Halloween disease. There are two giant spiders that stretch across the face of the house, and they are there day after day, year after year. From now until eternity, I will surely think of this post when I walk past that house!

    1. I find lingering Halloween decorations more offensive than Christmas ones. After all, Christmas is an incredible and important holiday. Halloween is nothing — just an excuse for women to dress slutty, men to give their cross dressing fetish a go-round, and children to practice their panhandling skills. Bad form, Halloween, bad form.

  14. Laughed myself silly when I read your article. One year we forgot to take our Christmas wreath off our front door until a neighbor kindly said to my husband, “Pastor, would you like me to take down your wreath for you?” Embarrassing, but it worked. And, we live in a HOA neighborhood. It was our only outside Christmas decoration, and we completely forgot about it with all the snow. We always entered the house through the garage. Perhaps you should try a different tactic????

  15. Mike, I am SO with you on this! We kept ours up ’til Jan. 6th, the Epiphany, my mother’s tradition. After that—ugh! I absolutely can’t understand how it doesn’t get on their nerves. Just today I passed a house in full regalia…we’re talking giant Xmas balls and tinsel hanging the full length of their front porch. This isn’t even buried by snow! EVER! WHAT is the excuse? Or an obvious Xmas wreath STILL on the door. I know that if a storm was coming, Jan. 6th or not, the big stuff was comin’ down! If the lights are buried under the snow, it irked me, but at least we didn’t SEE them lol LOVE this post and the Dragnet with your son? Priceless!

      1. I’m gathering up F Troop as we speak! These miscreants must PAY!
        P.S. In case you didn’t see it, registration is supposed to open some time today. They’re pushing to go LIVE, so keep a lookout 😀

  16. When you and Alex finish up Dragnetting your neighborhood, would you two come on up to mine? I find myself shouting (out loud, to myself, unfortunately) and pointing at the offensive BROWN Christmas wreaths still ‘decorating’ front doors. REALLY? Or, almost worse, the Santa and his reindeer and sleigh still ensconced on the large front lawn of some obvious lazyikins. Or did they go to FL for the winter and keep it there to annoy the heck out of the rest of us?
    There outta be a law….

      1. Well, Donna, you’d know who Maurice is if you follow Pam’s blog! (And you really should; it’s awesome.) But I don’t wanna keep you in suspense: “Maurice” is a misheard “more wreaths”.

  17. There’s a house on Pelham Bay Parkway in the Bronx that has the most obnoxious xmas decorations up all year round. Huge inflatable candy canes mixed in with Jesuses, santa clauses and reindeer — there oughta be a law! Your son sounds like the perfect partner for you!

    I used to leave my Halloween decorations up way into the x-mas season, but with maturity comes a growing respect for community. I considered that this might be rude or even hostile. So I take them down now in a timely fashion.

  18. I must also say that this post gave me a laugh! The way you put Dragnet into the mix — brilliant. I love Dragnet — and I believe all those stories are supposed to be true. I could see you and your son doing a spoof of Dragnet, approaching these neighbors about x-mas decorations and exceeding the time limit and such — bwahahahaha!

  19. OMG! I am still laughing, Mike. Can I come live at your house? I do a really good dum-dum-dum-dummm too. But then, if I showed up at your place, would that mean I have to take down that one remaining Christmas tree that’s still loitering in my dining room? heh, heh, heh.

  20. THANK you for saying it, Mike. Standing O from Portland on this one.

    I’m a pretty fun-loving person, but when I see Christmas decorations well past the allotted time, I lose it. I call these people unladylike names and consider jumping out of the car to tear them down. It hasn’t happened yet, but one of these days I just know I’m going to end up on the news.

  21. Although that tv show is before my time, I really enjoyed this post. Your title is hilarious and it sounds like your little guy is too. Thanks for the witty and sharp read =]

    1. Dragnet is before my time, too, but my wife calls me an old fart at heart. Much to my delight, my weird son seems to be following in my footsteps. Is there such a thing as an eight-year-old old fart at heart? Yes. Yes, there is.

      1. I can’t help myself. I LOVE that you have this effect—environmental AND genetic—on your son 😀 And I’m thinking it’s your “old fartiness” that makes you so endearing 😀 Well, at least to me, an actual old fart!

      2. Very happy to hear this and I hope you were able to get all your first choices 🙂 Can’t wait to see you there! There’s nothing like the whole “KidLit Kindred Spirit” thing 🙂

  22. Mike, I am a new blogger, and you are the second blogger that I have elected to follow. Dude! You are funny. When I read “the Allegra house,” I thought you meant decorations give you and your family allergies if they stay up beyond 1/6 of any given year. I, too, get irked by people who do things like that….unless, of course, it’s done in style. If you leave lights on your house all year long (the Superdome does), change the color(s) to match the seasons and/or holidays. I anticipate reading your awesome posts! The only thing I am confused/concerned about is, how/why do people pay you to blog? Take care! I’m glad to have virtually met The Allegras.

    1. I AM allergic to Christmas decorations that stay up past 1/6. Sadly, no over the counter medication can help my situation — only Dragnet Holiday SWAT Teams.

      And welcome to the bloggy world! I think you’re gonna like it.

  23. Hilarious post Mike – poor cookie monster! I seriously can’t believe people do that! I’ve never seen decorations out that late anywhere here in the UK, so maybe there are some secret decoration detectives I don’t now about keeping on top of the issue. Your neighborhood, on the other hand, seems to be calling out for a father son duo to do this vital job the state has ignored…if for nothing and nobody else, do it for cookie monster!!! H x

  24. Your son sounds amazing Mike 🙂

    I’m unpleasantly surprised though by those neighbors who leave Christmas decorations out for this long. Perhaps you should check whether they need help putting the stuff back indoors.
    Almost everyone here (Uganda) packs their decorations on New Year’s Eve. It makes the unpacking in December all the more exciting.

    1. The decorations are gone now, I’m pleased to say. And, no, the family did not need my help; the people who live in the Drunken Cookie Monster House are younger and more health-oriented that I am. They’re just lazy.

      That said, would you be a dear and tell everyone in Uganda that I think they’re awesome?

      And yeah, I kinda think my boy is amazing,too. 🙂

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