Christmas, of course.
I know, it's looked a lot like Christmas since the days right before Halloween when ornaments and tinsel started crowding bleeding skulls and glowing pumpkins off the shelves at Target.
But it's in full swing now, department stores blasting pop renditions of classic Christmas tunes, bell ringers at the door, wrapping stations parked in the middle of the mall.
The pace of the shoppers changes after Halloween; their gait becomes frenzied and purposeful, marching in two-step from store to store, lists in hand, markers crossing off things bought and things impossible to attain.
The neighbors have already started their migration from Thanksgiving props to Christmas decorations. I swear it was Halloween night when the great, glowing, blow up skeleton came down and the hot air turkey went up. The lighted skulls gave way to bales of hay and colorful gourds the next morning. And now, wasting no time, the colored strings of light lay twisted and tangled on their front lawn, waiting to be stretched out and hung on the gutter. And it's cold, to boot. Hand-blowing, toe-numbing cold that usually doesn't arrive on the Island until late December.
And with the onslaught of Christmas trappings comes the third annual Operation TIPS: Christmas Decoration Hell
(last year's installment here
). I don't mind Christmas decorations, really. In fact, there's nothing prettier than twinkling, colored lights bouncing their reflections off of newly fallen snow. It's when people get carried away
with their decor that I start to question the meaning of the holiday season (which is, of course, peace and goodwill towards men, gifts for everyone and death to people who have animated, musical Santas on their lawn).
You know who you are. You're the guy
who was up on the ladder two weeks ago, installing the tracks on your roof for this year's Polar Express display. You're the woman in the hand knitted sweater
adorned with reindeer and puffy angels. You're the couple who has already sent out their Christmas cards, complete with pictures of the kids and a handwritten, ten page family newsletter that has been scented with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. You rent space from a storage facility to store all of your outdoor holiday decorations. Your neighbors hate you.
So, with all that in mind, we proceed with the 2004 edition of Christmas Decorating Hell, which I'm getting off the ground early in order to give you plenty of time to charge the camera batteries and start scouting out the neighborhood.
Below is the copy of the rules, straight from last year. I'm open to suggestions this time around, if anyone wants to add to the rules.
I have a mission for you: Seek and destroy The Evil Overdecorator
. You know who I'm talking about; the guy who uses more electricity for his Christmas decorations than an entire small city. The neighbor who makes it look as if the Wal-Mart Christmas department threw up on her lawn.
I have a list of tips so you can determine whether or not you should report your neighbors to the TIPS Christmas hotline:
1. The brightness of their lighting display
cause low-flying planes to think they are approaching a landing strip.
2. A soundtrack of sappy Christmas songs plays on repeat all night long.
3. They mix in other holidays (Fourth of July
, Halloween) with their Christmas decorations.
4. A nativity scene represented by cartoon characters or are use of characters
that have nothing whatsover to do with Christmas and should not be used in any decorations ever. (see
, Pokemon display
5. Inflatable decorations oversix feet tall.
(2003 seemed to be the year of the inflatables. I wonder what trend o' crap the industry will subject us to this year)
6. A line of cars rolls down the block from December 1st until New Years, turning your neighborhood into a tourist attraction.
7. They charge admission. I don't care if it's for charity. It's still tacky.
8. The junk that sits on their lawn all year lawn is turned into instant Christmas decor.
9. Flashing or lighted messages boards
whose size rivals that of the Shea Stadium Diamond Vision.
10. They force their kids to re-enact The Night Before Christmas on their lawn every night.
11. They adverstise their display in the local paper.
12. Animatronic Nutcracker Suite.
13. The hired Santa that's supposed to "ho-ho-ho
" all night long is going "ho, ho, hic" instead (don't question this, I've seen it happen).
14. Zillions of volts
of electricity in the name of Jesus.
15. A new edition for 2004: Anything that's just wrong
. We're talking Santa's head skewered on a fork
And I'm not holding you strictly to outdoor decorations this year. Everything is fair game, especially apparel, when it looks like this.
You can start sending links now if you got them. It's never too early to make laugh and point. There will be various awards given out to both the decorations and the tipsters who send in the best stuff.
Now, I am sending you out into the wild, armed with your cameras to hunt down the perpetrators of any of the above Christmas crimes and report back to me. Rewards to be had for the person who brings in the most offenders. You may also use this opportunity to turn yourself in if you are a guilty party and receive amnesty before one of your neighbors rats on you.
I will be out trolling the streets of Long Island, looking for the most tasteless, tacky decorations I can find. Two words: wire cutters.
I got 'em and I'm not afraid to use them.