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Big Holiday Blowout!

 I experienced a holiday first this year. I spent the night in lockup at the county jail. It wasn’t so traumatic. It only added extra octane to my celebrations. I got to drink eggnog from a tin cup and harmonize “Jingle Bells” with a pickpocket Santa

The jolly criminal was incarcerated because he Fleeced Navidad’ed shoppers in the mall and pulled cash from Victoria’s Secret drawers. Cellblock Santa was a merry old soul who smelled like peppermint with a base note of Hickory Farms Summer Sausage.

I guess you’re wondering what happened. It’s a festive story filled with holiday splendor and action-film stunts. It happened because I’m a Christmas connoisseur– a purist when it comes to outdoor decorations.

I grew up when the lights du jour were C9 bulbs. The big type that screwed into heavy cords. They got scorching hot when lit. So, you hung them on your house and shrubbery and then flipped on the power to see what you’d created. You waited for the smell of ozone to waft in the air and your shrubs to sizzle. The house would be bathed in red and green, or your favorite choice of colors. The look was completed with a wreath on the front door. The house had a simplicity of festive design.

It was a tradition to jam into the family car and view all the light displays. I became an official drive-by judge while in 3rd grade. In my little town, holiday light decorating was not a talent. It was more of Twas the Blight Before Christmas. Houses looked like a Picasso painting during his Adderall period. There was never a coherent theme. Strings of lights didn’t match and they could be strung anywhere. They circled old tires left on the lawn, a discarded sofa, a TV antenna or a child who got stapled to the porch while daddy was attempting to decorate.

Improvisation never worked. I remember a nativity scene that included a pink flamingo, Teddy Ruxpin, a Keebler elf as a wise man and a Cabbage Patch Doll as the holy infant. There’s nothing like the gift of gold, frankincense and Fudge Stripes. This family couldn’t boast the best decorations on the street, but they could claim they had the birth certificate of sweet baby Jesus.

Technology and the digital age changed holiday lighting. There are icicle lights, projection lighting, pixel displays and the utter abomination of holiday decorations– lawn inflatables. I always thought plastic blow molds were the Frankenstein of lawn décor. But now, they’re like comparing Adele to Milli Vanilli.

Please, bring back the big phallic candles and the nativity where Jesus glows like he was born in Chernobyl. Blow molds are kitschy and retro now. If used correctly they can add a flair to your decorations. I just saw a giant Christmas tree made out of blow molds. It was bold and artistic unlike the inflatable monstrosities staked out in neighbors’ yards. If you really want a brightly colored bag of hot air on the lawn, Trump’s available.

The new millennium began with the spread of Mad Cow Disease, the West Nile Virus and the manufacture of yard inflatables. I assume they’re the illegitimate spawn of the crazy waving tube people on car lots. They don’t exude the festive feeling of the most wonderful time of the year. There’s no creativity involved when your decorations are bags of nylon inflated and lit into shapes that shouldn’t represent the holiday.

Look around, there’s a T-Rex wearing a Santa hat with a package in its mouth, Sponge Bob Square Pants with a candy cane and crabs, Unicorns with horns that need Viagra, My Little Pony with a glandular problem and Minions on sleds, singing carols, and popping out of boxes.

A Minion is a little yellow, freakish lab experiment that speaks in gibberish. Holiday commercialism is so bad, anything with holly stuck on it or donning a red cap is now a Christmas decoration. My traditionalist brain tells me giant punching bags are not acceptable décor.

I understand most people buy them because they have children. They think it’s creating a Disney World on their property. I say buy airline tickets to Florida or move the manic menagerie behind the house. Situate the fifteen-foot Frosty so he’s staring into little Susie’s bedroom window and see how long she’s enchanted by the peeping snowball.

If people choose to deck their lawns, at least keep them inflated. Turned off, they’re piles of colored nylon. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” more convincingly than the re-creation of a landfill.

Every time I pass a lawn with inflatables, I’m tempted to mow them down with my car. I feel like Martha Stewart being asked to hang crepe paper for a bridal shower. I keep my cool but in my head, the lawn is left in tatters with bits of Minions in my tire treads.

My trip to the big house began with a power outage. It was several evenings before the big “C” day. I was basking in the light of my decorations. My tree sparkled and my fireplace crackled. Mariah was belting out her song for the one millionth time when I was plunged into darkness. I spilled my eggnog all over my Elf onesie and knocked over my “12 Days of Christmas display.” Ten lords leaped right into my fireplace.

I was not happy. But, I did have candles and emergency lanterns. I hummed “I’m Dreaming of an Electric Powered Christmas.” Two hours into the blackout, I checked with the electric company for an estimated power restore and it indicated 3 PM the next afternoon. From the map, it was only my street without power.

I’m willing to go with a little inconvenience. This was much more than that. The room temperature began to drop as mine began to rise. What was the cause of the outage? There were no storms or tornadoes. I called a friend of a friend whose uncle’s, sister-in-law’s, cousin’s adopted son’s birth father worked for the electric company – word to the wise, “it pays to know people.”

A transformer had blown when a 15-foot inflatable nutcracker became tangled in power lines. I lost consciousness for a minute while visions of hydrogen plums detonated in my head. An inflatable had caused the winter of my discontent. I’m not a vindictive person during the months without an “R” in them. So, let the revenge begin.

I knew where the rogue nut sack came from. Two blocks away, this toothy monster presided over a gaggle of gas bags extolling “Oh Holy Nightmare.” I prayed this nylon terrorist had fried when it knocked out my power. I wanted to see its charred remains sticking out of a dumpster. 

The next day with power restored, I drove to the house of hot air horrors. What to my wondering eyes should appear? But, the 15-foot demon and its maniacal leer.  He sported a patch where there was a singe spot. My brakes squealed and I jumped from the car. “You’re going down Nutzilla!” I screamed.

I flung myself at the decoration. My arms and legs grasping like I was scaling a giant redwood. I climbed toward the toothy grin intent on performing an extraction. What the nutcracker possessed in height he lacked in balance. His tethers pulled from the ground and I began riding him like a whale at SeaWorld.

I struggled attempting to pull his plug and cutoff the airflow. The fight continued as we rolled across the lawn. An audience of fellow inflatables cheered us on. Santa driving a tractor waved  and a polar bear on an iceberg nodded. “Go for the patch.” I told myself. I grabbed for his roasted nuts when I heard a police siren.

In that moment, I knew there was a line to cross. Either perform an Olympic-style dismount or deflate my Christmas nemesis. The police pulled me from a pile of fabric that would no longer threaten the neighborhood power grid.

As they lead me to the patrol car, one of the officers told me a 911 call came in about a crazy man trying to have sex with a large yard inflatable. I explained, between fits of laughter, it was a moment of passion, but of destruction not love. Officer O’Malley understood and said, “I don’t like the blowup things either.” I had one person on my side.

I was charged with trespassing and destruction of private property– lewd behavior was dropped. The judge was fair. Since I’d been a law-abiding citizen until my ‘smacker with the cracker,’ he expunged my record. My punishment was buying a replacement decoration for the one I’d snuffed out. Also, there’s a restraining order filed against me in effect between Black Friday and New Year’s Day every year.

I regret I lost my cool and acted irrationally in the light of day. Every good sleuth knows you hit your target under the cloak of darkness. Now that I’ve battled a giant inflatable, I have a lust for punctured nylon.

The birth of Mr. Bust-A-Lawn has taken place. You won’t see me coming, I’ll be hidden behind a tree, under a bush, inside your recyclable bin with my trusty hatpin. As soon as the blowers turn on, I’ll pop, drop and roll on to my next house– ready to take the hot air out of the holidays.


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