Family and/or Autobiography

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.

Family and/or Autobiography

Elfless Shelves, Etc.

Meet the elf! Oh, how I hate him.
Meet the Elf! Oh, how I hate him.

Elf On The Shelf People fall into two categories:

There are the Earnest Elf People, the ones who go to great lengths to show off the little guy’s wondrous magic. When they are not ooh-ing and ahh-ing the Elf’s antics, they use his existence as a means to deliver thinly veiled threats. (“Oh, I sure hope the Elf didn’t see that!”)

Then there are the Naughty Elf People, who take great pleasure showing the little guy breaking into the liquor cabinet or making a lecherous pass at a Bratz doll.

Most of my friends fall into the latter category.

As for me, I am not an Elf-On-The-Shelf Person. I believe that warrantless elf spying violates my civil rights. If Santa is too lazy to find out on his own if someone is naughty or nice – something he did with little effort back in the 1970s, I might add – well, that’s his problem, not mine. I’m showing that pint-sized KGB agent the door.

As a parent of a young child, however, this opinion of mine is not popular. My son can’t help but notice that almost all of his classmates have elves. I suppose that in this age of social media run amok – an era when nobody can reasonably expect any right to privacy – having an elfin tattletale skulking around is something to covet.

I don’t get it, but there it is.

So my son and I compromised.

Meet Butter Boy! My stupidest impulse buy ever.
Meet Butter Boy!

Butter Boy is perhaps the most useless kitchen gadget ever. You shove a stick of butter in his head and it allows you to easily butter your corn on the cob. Since corn on the cob season is over, I offered B.B. some seasonal work.

See? He's a lobbyist for Big Coal! (These ideas seem like good ones at 6 a.m.)
Hey, it seemed like a good idea at 6 a.m.

Butter boy is not the only unusual holiday decoration we have these days; we also have a Christmas Mouse.

As longtime readers of this blog might recall, I had a Christmas Mouse last year, too. I released him the day after I caught him because the weather was mild.

This year’s visitor, however, decided to poop on my countertops the day after we had a horrible snowstorm. I couldn’t release the little guy under such terrible conditions, so he’s now a houseguest, living the Life of Riley in a mouse condo – eating cashews, cereal, and peanut butter – until the weather decides to cooperate.

As I write this, it is snowing. So, yes, there is a reasonable chance this guy might be rooming with us until April.

If he wasn’t so gosh darn adorable, I’d mind — but he is, so I don’t.