Marking your territory

The Grinch at work

There’s a morgue under the house according to my wife. It’s where I store most of the Christmas decorations because it’s cool, relatively dry and full of critters that love living in blowmold cavities. Most have died but a few still move around enjoying a predator free environment. I learned years ago it’s best to pull most of the stuff out of the morgue during late summer so it can air out and de-mildew in the bright sunshine before the real Christmas decorating begins. That’s what I did last weekend. I had to put up a “private property” sign in my backyard because strangers thought I was having a never ending yard sale.

My biggest challenge over the years has been Mrs. Winklebottoms and her three overly active yorkies next door. Why do dogs find it necessary to constantly mark their territory over in my territory? I tried to out-mark them the first year until my wife put an end to that little battle. Luckily yellow stains wash off with a garden hose but the smell lingers if the weather is just right.

Mrs. Winklebottoms put a “For Sale” sign in front of her place back in January and the house finally sold last week. Her parting words screamed at me while riding off in the moving van with a lap full of dogs was “Thanks for making my house so hard to sell!” Hmmmm. I don’t recall her saying anything bad about the 180 blowmold choir members and the 100 foot megatree last Christmas. She never mentioned a word about all the cars that parked in her yard just to watch the lights in my yard. Now that I think about it, she hasn’t said anything to me the last nine years, about the time she started putting plywood over the windows facing my house.

I’ll admit to having a really ugly part of my Christmas display always aimed towards Winklebottoms. It was actually my Halloween setup I drug towards her side of the yard. Deep down I was hoping the moving skeletons, banging coffins and flying ghosts would get her to come over and beat on my front door as Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was playing through the speakers. I had no idea what was really happening behind the plywood.
My new neighbors moved in yesterday and I knew something was up when the plywood came down and the empty beer cans started flying through the windows and out into the yard. I’m guessing I drove Mrs. Winklebottoms to stimulate the economy of the local Bud distributor. Now it makes sense why I saw that big beer truck parked in her driveway every Tuesday afternoon. No wonder she never wanted to talk. She was soused.

The new neighbors seem nice and definitely have the Christmas spirit, though I’ve never known anyone with a Christmas wreath tattoo around their nose. Billy Joe is his name and he’s beside himself with excitement knowing he’s right next to a real life Christmas decorator living in a house without wheels. I’ve met his wife Barbie Joe and their five kids Billy Junior, Bobby, Betty, Brenda and Barney Joe. Their pit-bulls Booger and Bummer do have me a bit worried though as they try to make yorkie smells go away on all my Christmas gear.

I really wish you could see all the Joe’s hopping around talking about how great this Christmas will be. They counted the members of the blowmold choir pulled from the morgue and let me know I actually have one hundred and eighty-teen of them plus three with yellow rear ends (those darn dogs.) They’ve already named my five wireframe elves to Barry, Becky, Beckie, Burney and Bruce. The moving head wireframe reindeer I bought at a garage sale last year for $3 have the kids thinking they’re really living at the North Pole next to Santa.

Now what? A Halloween themed Christmas doesn’t make sense if there’s no neighbor to irritate. An all-Bubba display might be in order. Hate to see all those empty beer cans end up in the dumpster. That’s the ticket! I’m already starting to imagine the story I can tell with my display. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer takes on a whole different meaning if he’s leaning against the refrigerator surrounded by crushed beer cans.

I bounced the idea off Billy Joe senior and he blew a smoke ring in my direction. “Are you nuts?” was the response. There was a long pause as I wiped my face. He then said there were at least 25 pounds of aluminum beer cans in his new house; they were his, worth big bucks and way too expensive to be in any Christmas display.

My low bar of expectations dropped a notch.

Now I’m at a crossroad and don’t know which way to turn. Should I go with the traditional decorations and really get my new neighbors excited about the possibilities of a great Christmas? Should I decide on a low class theme to take advantage of my surroundings or should I put everything back in the morgue, take the year off and go see the relatives down at Disneyworld in Florida?

I felt something warm on my leg. Booger had marked me. I’m his.


From the August 2009 edition of PlanetChristmas Magazine

by Fred Garvin

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