Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Trilogy

And now, to introduce a post that needs no introduction...

Some of my long-timer readers may remember last Christmas. And you may remember in particular a certain four posts about a certain pair of yard decorations. This humble recounting would be cherished as as some of the greatest material to ever grace the pages of the Old Blog.

But Christmas season is upon us again, and people have been suggesting that I should repost the entire saga. And for my newer readers, you may enjoy it as well. Instead of four individual posts, I present, in its entirety:

The Kissing Santas

Now I must unfold a drama that is so central to myself and my family, that I simply can not imagine how I could do it in one post.

I speak, of course, of....the Kissing Santas.

First, you need to understand some things about my mother. Martha is a woman of impeccable and exquisite tastes. Combine this with her passionate affinity for the Christmas season and the result is gads and oodles of really expensive Christmas decorations.

She has enough Spode to serve ninety. And she has a respectable infantry of these hand-crafted German nutcracker things. What kind of Christmas tree does a woman like this possess? Well that depends on which one you're talking about; she has seven. They have different themes. My Dad and I accept this a way of life.

So imagine our surprise when one day Martha carts home two large wooden cut-outs, designed for yard display. First of all, she's always been vehemently against any sort of yard decorations like flamingos or gnomes or things of that nature. Second of all, one is Santa Clause, the other is a Mrs. Clause, and you stand them up next to each other. Their eyes are closed, lips are puckered, and Santa's arm is extended into the air, holding mistletoe.

Thus the monicker "Kissing Santas". That may not be the most accurate name for them, but it was more endearing than "About to be Kissing Santas" or "Get Ya Some St. Nick".

So for the last four or five years that my parents spent at their old house, Dad and I would cart the Kissing Santas out of storage and bewilderedly install them in the yaupon bed in the front yard. Every year we would grow in our confusion as we put these amorous icons of holiday commercialism outside of a house that contained an inventory of Christmas decorations that you could probably use as collateral for a summer home in Belize and a yacht to get you there.

But that isn't the real story of the Kissing Santas. The real story is how every year, some new tragedy would befall these star-crossed lovers whom Martha regarded with Gollom-esque affection.

The story of these tragedies will be told...when the drama of the Kissing Santas continues...

Year 1: Santa-napping

My mother awoke one fateful December morning to discover that our wooden representations of the allegedly non-existent holiday benefactors were nowhere to be found. There were only two logical implications for this anomaly: either they had eloped, or they had been stolen.

The first option was right out, considering Mrs. Clause's commitment issues.

Naturally, she panicked, as is the reaction most common among people who have just had loved ones or Santas stolen from them. When cooler heads prevailed, she called the police who promptly sent over nine detectives and the red-headed chick from CSI: Miami. When the best minds in law enforcement, both exaggerated and fictitious, turned up nothing, Mom took matters into her own hands to put the clues together.

"Did your idiot friends steal my Santas?"

I had no knowledge of any of my acquaintances or associates pilfering the Santas, but knowing my friends as well as I did, I responded accordingly:

"Hmm...yeah, probably."

You see, back in high school, we saw movies all the time, like 2 or 3 times a week. My parent's house was the closest of our residences to the movie theatre we frequented. So most weekends, my house was where the action was. And accordingly, Mom was very familiar with our rampant idiocy.

Looking back now, I think we may have been immature even for 16-17 year old males.

One time, in the course of some new monumentally stupid endeavor of ours, a small plastic dinosaur ended up in the refrigerator. I honestly cannot remember what course of events led to its placement there, nor can I possibly imagine how anyone with an even slightly developed brain stem could ever think that was amusing. I'm also at a loss to explain why we put a marshmallow in its mouth. Maybe that was an important food source in the late Cretaceous period.

Mom didn't even flinch when she saw the dinosaur. She walked into my room and said with a straight face:

"I think I'll have your father call the exterminator."


"We've had some pests recently, and I've found some in the refrigerator."

"What, like mice?"

"No, just miniature dimetrodons. But they're getting into the marshmallows."

Mom knew we were idiots. So when our two-dimensional lovers turned up missing, she didn't have to look very far. Her next question was fairly obvious.

"I bet Regan stole them, didn't he?"

"I'm sure he had something to do with it. Let me make some calls."

Turns out it was a group effort. The Kissing Santas were now riding around in the trunk of Lee's sister's Mustang. What's odd is that they managed to steal them the night before when we were all outside in the front yard goofing off. Yes, I was out there, and somehow , a splinter group of my friends broke off and pulled two wooden Santa cut-outs out of the ground, carried them across the lawn, and put them in the trunk of the Mustang. Without me noticing. My shock that they had pulled this off was rivaled only by their shock that they had pulled this off.

"We thought you knew we took them!"

"No! Why would I just let you cart off Martha's most treasured exterior Christmas decor?"

"How did you not see us pull two wooden Santa cut-outs out of the ground, carry them across the lawn, and put them in the trunk of the Mustang?"

"I don't know! But Martha's gonna put me in a choke hold if you don't bring them back!"

"Ok, alright . . . so what movie are we seeing tonight?"

Without further controversy, they brought the Santas back. Thus, the tragedy of the Santas became the tragedy of my dad and I, who already had the champagne on ice ready to toast their demise.

Year 2: Santas After Dark

I will now attempt to describe the second-year incident with as much class and discretion as is possible.

Our fair town of Lubbock, Texas is well-known for its propensity for wind. All shapes and flavors of wind. Such wind as we face here in the Hub City is ever the bane of the Christmas decoration population. Many a herd of roof-top reindeer have faced extinction at the hands of a stout West Texas gale. Nativity scenes are plunged into the most confusing and unbiblical arrays imaginable.

Likewise, wooden Santa cut-outs are offered no immunity from these tempests. I returned home one blustery winter day to find that our Santas had fallen victim to a most improper mistral.

I am now out of synonyms for "wind", except for the word "chinook", which is far too obscure. I was afraid that if I nonchalantly used it in a sentence, everyone would think of that guy Shinook from Mortal Kombat 4, and get really confused.

The effect of the wind was almost too slight to notice. It had caused only a couple of slight rearrangements in the positions of the Kissing Santas. Unfortunately, the miniscule adjustments had now placed our jolly friends into a very inappropriate position.

I'll not have that sort of thing going on in my front yard, thank you very much.

I decided it would be in the best interest of the neighborhood morality for me to interrupt them. I felt a bit bashful; I suppose even Santas like a bit of privacy every once in a while. But then again, that is just no way for the two elderly patrons of the Holiday season to behave. What would the neighbor's garden elves think? It would probably be the source of a lot of gossip amongst the Christmas decoration population.

I can just imagine what the matrons from the Dicken's Villiage arrangement in the living room would have to say about it.

"I say Miss Haversham...did you hear about the way Mr. and Mrs. Clause were carrying on in the front lawn yesterday?"

"Rightly I did Clara, and in front of the neighbor's garden elves. Tis an outrage!"

Of course they would also talk about how "concerned" they are and how they should pray for the wayward couple. As we all know, gossip is nullified by concern and prayer. This is common knowledge and is widely practiced among old women.

So I set the couple straight again. After that I was always very watchful of the Kissing Santas, lest something like that happen again. And since it was obvious they'd been watcing far too much Cinemax, I also limited their cable viewing.

Year 3: Custody Battle

One fateful December morning, my mother awoke to find her Kissing Santas missing. Again. I had been moved out of my parent's house for a couple of years at this point, so she calls me up and makes a reasonably inquiry:

"Did your idiot friends steal my Santas?"

"I haven't heard anything about it; I don't think they would have stolen them and not told me."

"Why would they tell you if they stole my Santas?"

"I dunno. I suppose because disclosure is the fine line between a prank and criminal mischief."

"Whatever. Tell Regan I want my Santas back."

I don't remember who I called, but I called somebody just to check:

"Did y'all steal Martha's Santas again?

"No. Why would we steal them and not tell you? We'd have probably invited you."

So with my hypothesis proven true, the waiting game began. There really wasn't anything we could do besides call the FBI and have them send down a Special Victims Unit. They took 8 x 10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence. And if you got that reference, you have my undying respect and sympathy.

There were no leads and no ransom note. So we abandoned hope after like a day and a half. Shortly thereafter, I was driving to my parents house when I noticed something peculiar taking place in front of a house about a block down from parent's casa.

It looked like a small coalition of Christmas yard decorations were staging their own reenactment of the Normandy invasion. Dozens of Santas, elves, candy canes, Jesus-Mary-'n-Josephs, and even a few nonuplets of reindeer appeared to be storming their way through the Bermuda grass and advancing up the gentle slope to the Axis-occupied 3-bed-2-bath fortress.

Two members of the platoon didn't seem very focused on the invasion or the yuletide reeanactment thereof. It seemed they would rather make love, not war. They were our Santas, of the Kissing variety.

When I arrived home, I relayed my observation to my mother. Her response:

"I bet Regan stole them and put them in their yard."

"Yeah, that would be a prank with style, but I don't think he would have stolen every Christmas decoration between 82nd Street and the South Loop and put them in their yard."

"Get your father and go get my Santa's back."

So now dad and I have the esteemed privilege of knocking on someone's door and saying, "I'm sorry, but we would like this obscenity returned to our yard please, where it belongs."

Actually we didn't know what we were in for. How exactly do you handle asking someone to return your converted chattle when they are so brazenly displaying it in their front lawn? I was fairly certain that some sort of livestock would be catapulted at us, and then they would threaten to taunt us a second time.

My dad and I rang the doorbell, and when a middle-aged man appeared at the door, dad opted for the least accusatory intro he could think of:

"Hey, did you notice you have some extra Santas in your yard?"

"Actually I did, is one of them yours?"

"Yeah, two of 'em. The, uh...kissing ones."

"Well good, glad I could get rid of a few more of those things. Actually, none of those are ours. We just moved in here a couple of weeks ago and woke up one morning to find our yard swarming with other people's Christmas decorations."

"So somebody stole all of these and went to the trouble of setting them all up in your yard?"

"Yeah I guess so. I thought it seemed like a pretty weird way of welcoming us to the neighborhood."

Dad and I were a little upset. I think we'd have both rather been shot at and chased off of the property than have had to rescue those Santas and re-install them in our yard. Probably the best-case scenario would have involved a mafia henchman opening the door and saying, "I'll tell you what, the boss likes the Santas, so the Santas stay, but here's a couple hundred for your troubles 'cause the boss likes you."

But no gunfire, and no henchmen. Just a nice bald guy who was all too happy to get rid of the R-rated Santas.

That's the end of the drama of the Kissing Santas. A couple of years later, their paint melted together during the summer when they were stacked up during storage. When we pulled them apart they lost about about 25% of their respective paint jobs. Martha insists we did it on purpose. Yeah, like we made it 150 degrees in the storage building. Not that we wouldn't have done it if we had thought about it five years earlier.

During that Christmas season, she would ask about them every few days. Where are my Santas, what did you do with my Santas, why do you hate my Santas, I swear to God I will never stop hating you until you bring back my Santas. That sort of thing.

This concludes the drama of The Kissing Santas. Incidentally, to this day, whenever something at the house turns up missing, Martha still thinks Regan stole it