Holidays get off to rough start

Ah, the holiday season.

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is that magical time of the year when families pull together closer, strangers do kind things for one another and the air just has a friendlier feel to it all around. Oh, there is some stress involved — financial difficulties are magnified that much more with the pressures of holiday buying, for example, and we often miss lost loved ones that much more when we reflect on those special holiday memories.

But people are just generally nicer this time of year, right?

For instance, I was just reading an Associated Press article about a man and his 37-year-old son in Parrish, Fla. According to the story, the two were enjoying the time-honored tradition of putting up Christmas decorations when ... hmmm. Maybe I should have read this entire article before I started writing about it.

Apparently, the son threw a 3-foot Christmas tree at his father and, having missed with that effort, proceeded to try to strike his father with the steel base from the tree. The father and mother reportedly were able to restrain the son, but police did arrive on the scene and the son was charged with felony assault.

Well, that’s not exactly a warm tale of sitting by the fire and drinking egg nog while sharing tales of yesteryear, is it?

A little closer to home, I fumbled across another Associated Press Christmas-related story in Manchester, Md.

A 51-year-old woman who has a love and appreciation for Christmas decorations was ... oh, man. This one stinks, too.

According to the story, authorities were called after a neighbor of the woman heard a loud crash outside her home, went to investigate and discovered that her 4-foot-tall Santa and snowman had been stolen from her yard. When police arrived, another woman stopped by and said that she was missing Christmas decorations, as well.

The county sheriff’s office reported that they found decorations from at least three area homes in the 51-year-old woman’s house, and she was subsequently charged with misdemeanor theft charges.

Maybe it’s just me, but as someone who has almost broken his neck 734,928 times hanging Christmas decorations, I’d much rather have less decorations, not more. Also, was she planning on putting out those decorations in the very neighborhood she swiped them from in the first place?

I’m guessing this woman had a special little diet of lead paint chips as a child.

Feeling a little disheartened about the lack of holiday joy to this point, I decided to stop looking for just Christmas-related stories, and instead just see what was going on around this country in general. I was happy to see a story that originated in Reno, as I used to spend quite a bit of time there when I lived outside Sacramento.

I’ll, um, just quote the first line of the Associated Press story for you.

“The Nevada Highway Patrol says a drunken driving suspect in Reno was gassed in more ways than one. A 40-year-old Reno woman was arrested early Tuesday after an ambulance crew saw her driving on U.S. Highway 395 with a fuel hose and nozzle sticking out of her gas tank.”

Police eventually pulled the woman over and arrested her after she reportedly failed a sobriety test. She was charged with suspicion of driving under the influence.

You know, I’ve faced the humiliation of walking around an Orioles game with a piece of toilet paper hanging from the back of my shoe. I’ve had “Kick Me” signs on my back (Thank you, Chris Allen), and I’ve heard the catcalls caused by an unsightly tear in the back of my jeans. But if you ever see me driving down Route 26 with a gas hose hanging from my car, call the police. Right then, and right there.

Of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without the final line of the article. Again, I quote.

“[Patrol spokesman Chuck Allen] said they are still trying to find the service station that is missing the nozzle and about 6 feet of fuel hose.”

I guess the real CSI team in Nevada is indeed in Vegas.

One last item, I promise. The Associated Press reported that a message in a bottle tossed into the ocean off New Jersey washed up recently in North Carolina — 39 years later.

At least it wasn’t a syringe this time.