I’ve been waiting throughout 2011 for it to happen and yesterday it finally did. A weather-beaten, sun-bleached Christmas ornament that’s been taunting me for the better part of the year finally dropped like a rotten fruit. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Last November, I moved from the wilds of concrete and strip malls in Northeast Philadelphia to a decidedly greener location in Abington, PA. We looked at homes that were both part of and unrelated to home owners’ associations. I had a neighbor across the driveway from the old place that had a disembodied toilet in their breezeway for several months. I was tempted to go out there and sit on it with a newspaper with my pants at my ankles. I’d plant myself there a few minutes before they’d leave for an early morning greeting and surprise. If this is what HOAs prevent (the toilet, not my sitting on it), then I’m all for it, but they overreach.
My girlfriend and I both agreed that we didn’t want to deal with HOAs after reading several articles about political infighting and the resulting lawsuits. Reading a few HOA rules and regulations documents further solidified our stance. One in particular stood in when it stated that it did not allow the owners to keep more than one cat and/or dog in the residence. You could have one cat and one dog, but not two cats or two dogs. I don’t own any animals, but if I did I would consider having two cats or two dogs so they could keep each other company. It might be possible to circumvent the rules if you had two cats. Who would know? Well, this HOA conducts annual home inspections during May and June. It’s on their charter. The police need a warrant to enter your home, but not the HOA if you sign their covenant.
We ended up at an old renovated house. It has the charm and character of a Victorian with modern amenities. It’s not part of an HOA. While an HOA has the potential to be the source of many migraines, it would not allow for Christmas decorations to be up year-round.
My neighbors across the street hung colorful plastic ornaments in their maple on the front lawn in December ’10. It’s appropriate for the season and gave a bare tree some interest. I had absolutely no objections. January came and so did plenty of snow. The decorations remained into Feb. and, given the frigid weather and record-setting snowfall I still didn’t mind. Then came March, April and May. A contractor lives there. I often see his truck parked on the front lawn. They must have ladder. They surely had one to put up the decorations. Excuses are running thin. Sure, it’s been wet in the Northeast. We’re on track to set a rainfall record for the year, but we have had clear sunny days – and the baubles remain, taunting me.
Leaves grew over covering most of them, but one bold ornament remained in the open. By mid-summer it was weather-beaten, sun-bleached and lost its initial flaming-orange luster. It hung and glinted at me, a reminder of its unseasonable presence. Along came Hurricane Irene and I hoped it would take these round plastic demons with it. We got a puddle of water in the basement. Our roof shingles survived and so did the objects of my growing ire. I was in DC for the earthquake. When I heard that it reached up to the Philly area, I had my fingers crossed that I’d come home to a Christmas-free tree. Two acts of nature and still they hang on.
Is it wrong to hope for a 7.0 quake with the tree as its epicenter? Considering our house is across the street, maybe it’s not such a good idea. Perhaps the ground could open up and swallow the tree. Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen no matter how hard I pound the ground. I’d settle for a mini-quake that would just shake those abominations loose.
Yesterday, I was sitting in a rocking chair on my porch enjoying a pleasant evening when I looked up expecting to see the faded eye-sore. It finally fell! I let out a small cry of excitement and triumph. This called for a beer. I saw the neighbor pull onto the lawn as I rocked back in profound satisfaction. He got out of his pickup and walked right past it. No ladder required; just a modicum of effort. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that it was ignored. Perhaps it would just sit there until there’s a strong breeze or the next time the lawn is mowed. As much as I complain about these Christmas perennials, their lawn is kept under control. Could I wait that long? I’ve already waited three seasons. What’s another two weeks?
As the night wore on, the temptation to steal across the street and abscond with the round fallen demon grew. A friend suggested taking it and putting it up in my tree as an act of defiance. While that notion has appeal, it would send the wrong message. I don’t want to support this behavior. No, it must be removed. I slept fitfully.
This morning, in light of day, I opened the front door and there it was, sun glinting off the bleached surface. I wasn’t sure if it was of my own volition or if some unholy force compelled me across the street. Before I was even aware, I was walking across the street and picking it up. I cackled like a mad man and quickly silenced myself for fear that they might hear me. Absconding with the object of my desire and hate, I returned inside and presented it to my girlfriend, like a cat bringing a fresh kill to its owner. She had just dressed for the morning and was still drying her hair. While finding it amusing, I’m sure it reinforced her belief that I can’t be left unsupervised.
I present to you my trophy:
By my count, four remain hidden in the leaves. I’m tempted to leave a ransom note threatening to destory my capture lest they remove the rest. I wonder if the hangers-on will be joined by new compatriots and coconspirators plotting to drive mad this Christmas or if they’ll follow suit and drop. Perhaps they’ll simply cling through until they are seasonable once more.