The world is going absolutely mad


Oh, ‘tis definitely the season.

The winter holidays may bring about warmth and a sense of doing the right thing by one’s personal beliefs, but they also bring about chaos, bills and some of the most odd stories of the year. Peace on earth? Indeed. Good will to man? Not so much.

Actually, let me start by opening Pandora’s box right off the top. I understand the need to refer to this as the holiday season. There are numerous religions and ideaological groups recognizing some of their most sacred and time-honored holidays of the year, and I respect that. I truly do. But, for this one individual, this is the Christmas season. And, since I am that one individual, and this is in fact my column, I’ll refer to it as the Christmas season in this space. Call me names, heck, throw pieces of frozen Spam at me if it will make you feel better. But this is the space I get to practice my free speech, there are no tax dollars involved regarding this space and I’m not trying to spread hate or a bias against any individual’s rights. I just ask that you respect mine, as well. Again, my column — my rules.

Now, back to our story.

Let’s start out in the Greenfield section of beautiful, scenic Pittsburgh, Pa. It was last Sunday night, and John and Christine Cushman were inside their home decorating for Christmas as many people were at that time, according to the Web site, ThePittsburghChannel.com. However, what makes the Cushman’s story different is what was happening outside their cozy nest. The couple said someone took the nativity scene out of their yard.

Wow, that’s pretty low.

I don’t have a lot of personal standards. I giggle when small children fall in front of me and I’ve been known to try to embalm myself with Guinness and Jameson just to see what it would take to complete the job. I limp when I walk, often spit when I talk and find extreme pleasure in making those people around me uncomfortable at all times. However, I would never steal a nativity scene. That’s just bad mojo all around.

You want to hear something funny about this, though? The Web site posted a description of the stolen nativity scene. That’s just in case you happen to see three masked men dragging a nativity scene down the road behind them, you know it’s the right one before alerting police.

Or, if you don’t feel like calling law enforcement this Christmas season, maybe you’d rather call your job. A Reuters story this week cited some disturbing trends in the workplace. A study by CareerBuilder.com showed that 32 percent of workers called in sick to work over the last year, when they were not sick at all. Also, one in 10 said they did so at least three times. Of course, playing sick is nothing new, but some of the numbers from the survey were interesting nonetheless.

Jennifer Sullivan, a spokesperson for CareerBuilder.com, said that there is a higher rate during the Christmas season because people want to be with family or get some extra shopping in when they can. Also, women were more inclined to call in sick than men, by 37 to 26 percent.

Woman faking things? That’s a novel suggestion. There is no doubt in my mind I could have offered that very hypothesis with nothing more than personal experience backing me ...

But I digress.

Moving on, CNNMoney.com recently reported on a study conducted by PNC Wealth Management. The company examined the cost of the gifts in “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and satirically concluded that rising labor costs (particularly in regards to nine ladies dancing) caused the cost of the gifts to escalate. The “Total Christmas Price Index” for the various gifts comes to a whopping $18,920.59, an increase of 3.1 percent from last year.

So, while many of the costs stayed steady, the two pear trees jumped an unbelievable 44.4 percent (attributed to demand for ornamental trees jumping because of commercial construction), and four calling birds increased by 20 percent (no reason given, but I’m guessing it has to do with diva attitudes by the birds).

While we’re here, let’s look at the homeowners association in southwestern Colorado that was threatening to fine a woman $25 a day until she removed a Christmas wreath that contained a peace sign. The argument was that the wreath was an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan, according to an Associated Press story.

Or, and this is me just throwing this out there, the peace sign was maybe a symbol of, oh, I don’t know ... peace?