There’s a site in this town on which a pretty elaborate haunted house attraction takes place every Halloween. It’s called Scary Acres and as far as haunted houses go, it’s pretty cool. They have three attractions, the House on Haunted Hill, the Haunted Manor and some sort of scary woods set-up. I went there one year with my girlfriend and her son. It was entertaining, if only for the guys done up like Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw running around with chainsaws sans the chain. But they were very loud and made for some terrified chillens running all over the place with the chainsaw dudes chasing them. I don’t know if it was worth the price of admission ($30 a piece or so if I remember correctly), but it was worth the price of admission just to see the kid’s little ass fleeing in terror from those guys.
Then last weekend they had a “Nightmare Before Christmas” event that, if the reports on the radio were accurate, was also pretty fun. Of course, such a display wasn’t really necessary for me. I just had to go to Mom’s house. Simply a closer-than-cursory examination of the horrifying decorations and ornaments around the house is enough to throw the fear of God in even the toughest Who in Who-ville.
Let’s start with Homerun Jesus.
My parents have this very old, very fragile nativity scene complete with shepherds, lambs and other livestock, and the 3 Kings. Or is it Wise Men. I think both have been authorized as among the visitors to that decrepit old barn, but really, which was it? I mean, it could have been kings that were made so because they were wise I ‘spose. But then again, being ordained to royalty doesn’t necessarily make one wise. Also, why were there 3 kings all in one place? I mean, if they were kings, you would think that at least 2 of them had to come pretty far to a whole nother kingdom and then buy the native king’s story (“So check it out. I heard about this little kid being born tonite in a barn near here and he’s SUPPOSED to have authority over all of us. What say we go check it out?”) It also could have been just three wise men, but that doesn’t really make sense because, if the birth of baby Jesus was so momentous, why wasn’t it a shitload more wise men?
Then there is Joseph and Mary. Okay, good so far. Then in the manger of nativity scene is Ernie Banks. Let me explain. Ernie Banks used to play shortstop for the Chicago Cubs back in the ‘60s. Everybody in my family is ardent Chicago Cubs fans, a tradition that dates back to when my dad grew up in north central Iowa. Back in 1989, the Cubs won their division, the National League East, but they lost the series that would have sent them on the track to win the pennant. But they didn’t win, and yet my whole family got hooked that year and now, sadly, me, my dad and my brother are cursed with wearing the Cubs cap for the rest of our lives. The entire experience really made us all avid baseball fans in general. We started going to pro ballgames when I was in high school. Then I decided to buck the family tradition of going to Creighton for college and opted instead for Loyola University Chicago. That started a tradition of the boys going to Cubs games at Wrigley Field that lasted for over 10 years. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when somebody purchased for somebody as a gift two of those little Cubs figurine/action figure type collectibles for Christmas one year. One was the Banks and the other was Billy Williams, an outfielder for the Cubs and also in the Hall of Fame.
One year, we were decorating for Christmas and as my Da was arranging the antique nativity scene, the Baby Jesus’ head fell off. So, that year, nobody really said anything when the extended family came over about the decapitated baby in the manger. But we all knew it was there. So the next year, as the family slumbered, nestled in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their noggins (By the way, what the hell is a sugar plum? Never seen one, never tasted one, but every year we accept it as fact that those kids were dreaming about them. I mean, one would think that the kids would be dreaming about GI Joe guys or Barbies or a Playstation. But nope. Sugar plums), Anyway, I pulled the head off the Ernie Banks figurine and stuck it on Jesus’ torso. Everybody loved the Christmas miracle so much, and my parents are just heretic enough (even my Dad, the staunch Catholic) that it stayed. Apparently even Da knows that with all the pain and suffering in this world, God has to be a Cubs fan and is taking it out on us, His most privileged in all creation.
Another year, Mom decided she wanted to spice up the Christmas tree. So, She took a bunch of clothes pins and constructed a few figurines of her own. One was me in my Tae Kwan Do get-up.
It’s pretty clever, and Mom was accurate, right down to the ATA (American Tae Kwan Do Association) badge on the outfit. I didn’t get very far in that particular martial art. In fact, I did the same thing with Tae Kwan Do as I did with playing piano; I took lessons just long enough to start to get good, then quit. Thank god I stuck with the writing thing, right? Anway, moving on. The only other clothes pin kid that survived was my brother’s. At the time mom made the figurines, Dave was a prep cook at a little neighborhood Italian restaurant a few blocks from the house and the figurine was supposed to look like Dave after a night preparing Italian food.
I know, everybody thought the same thing. Mom didn’t know she was creating a Dave-as-serial-killer figurine and the thing was even freakier when Dave carried a big fucking meat cleaver, but that thankfully fell off. That freaky little thing hangs on our Christmas tree every year as a not-so-settle reminder of what Dave does when he doesn’t like his presents. I still see the spooky little smile on its face in my nightmares.
Then there’s the little gnomes around the kitchen sink.
I don’t care if they are seasonal decorations or not, one looks like he just got in an adorable little bar fight, one’s getting high, and one, for no apparent reason, is taking the advice of a fucking squirrel. Explain to me why that is seasonal, because I’d like to know.
The Sesame Street ornaments are just plain wrong.
First of all, they lack eyelids. I know Elmo and Ernie and Cookie Monster don’t have eyelids on the show, but that they are moving and talking distracts children from this fact. On the Christmas tree, well, try shifting your head to the tree quickly and finding yourself staring down one of these children of Satan and see how eager you are to deck the halls. Plus, they all have huge gaping holes on top of their heads in which you can place candles. You know, in case the gnomes are stumbling about with one eye or too stoned to walk straight and need some added illumination.
So there will be no Christmas-themed haunted attractions for me this year. I just have to go to Mom’s house and sleep on the couch and listen to the demonic giggles of an Elmo with a gaping head wound to lull me into blissful slumber.