Less than a week to go until Xmas, so I'm expecting to see Easter decorations in the stores any minute now. Seems like the retailers started pushing Xmas crap back before Labor Day -- no wonder I'm burnt out on the season. I exhausted my supply of Christmas cheer shortly after Halloween.
Of course, I've never been a big fan of the holiday. Didn't care for it when I was a kid, don't much care for it now. It used to be a fairly low-key holiday in the Christian calendar and retained its pagan overtones with the associations with Saturnalia and other solstice celebrations for enough centuries that the more austere varieties of Bible-banging denounced it as sinful. Not anymore. Now all the Bible-thumpers come out in full force demanding that we ignore every other holiday that falls around this time of year and focus 100% of our attention on worshipping at Walmart and buying gifts by the truckload.
The cartoon reminded me of the days back when we were living at the farm (aka the retirement bunker) in Upper Michigan. We were about 10 miles out of town, out in the boonies where apparently the townsfolk of L'Anse figured everything and anything was fair game because it was more than 5 minutes drive from where they lived. When it got to be December, they'd start showing up to steal Xmas trees.
We never had anyone pull something quite as blatant as taking one from right by the house we were living in, although one of our neighbors did (she looked out and someone was cutting down a tree that couldn't have been more than 20 feet from her front door). We did, however, surprise one of the local bankers in the act one year. The fellow was a vice president at the bank in town, and had come up with a car load of kids from his (and this is the really good part) Lutheran church Sunday school class. The farm has a long, curving driveway, but there's no doubt it's a driveway on private property and not a county road. He drove in to about 300 feet from the house and pulled up next to what we called the Little House, a small cabin that the S.O.'s parents had lived in when they first married (his grandparents had the big house on the farm). At the time no one was living in the Little House, but you couldn't tell that just by looking at it from the outside.
We noticed the car pull in by the Little House when the dog started barking, so we were watching from the kitchen window. At first we thought they were just going to turn around because they'd realized they were lost. Nope. They parked the car and piled out -- and started after a small spruce that had been planted next to the driveway. The S.O. throws on a jacket and heads out, yelling obscenities as he goes. They all scramble to get back into the car -- and then they get stuck. (Eventually they managed to dig the car out of the ditch; we did not offer to help.)
Whenever we'd tell that story up on the tundra, we'd get to hear about what a "nice guy" the thief in question was. After all, he wore a suit, looked clean cut, and must have had a college degree in something that qualified him to sit in an office at Commercial National. Right. "Nice guys" don't vandalize other people's yards. But he was an upstanding member of Trinity Lutheran, was willing to help out with Luther League, and had even volunteered to take the kids out looking for an Xmas tree -- how could he possibly be a thief?
Pretty easily, apparently, because a year or two later he changed jobs, went to a bank downstate, and not long after that a news blurb caught my eye: he'd progressed from white spruce to green cash and gotten busted for embezzlement.
Woodie Guthrie once wrote "Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen." And when it's winter in the U.P., the tool of choice is an ax.
Below: the target tree, 30 years after it almost wound up lashed to a car roof.