I Already Miss ‘Community’

When you look at this snowperson ornament — which, by the way, did not make the Christmas-tree cut this year — do you see a) a well-loved symbol of sweet childhood memories or b) a maniacal crazy-eyed snowcreature that makes you very very nervous? I guess it depends on whether you believe you’re looking at a) mittens and a broom or b) hooves and an ax. There’s no denying the crazy eyes, though. And, truthfully, I’m sure “Frosty the Zombie Snowman” will be the Next Big Thing. (Note to self: Ask always-zombie-alert husband if zombie snowpeople would actually carry axes. Or wear holly in their hats.)  Before you scoff, know that I am extremely sensitive to the possibilities of Evil Toylike Objects because of the Tree Toys. Would you like to hear the story? Pour some eggnog, settle down by the fire and I’ll tell you. See, when we lived in Alabama and my two now-mid-20s daughters were young, an elderly woman who lived down the street from us would celebrate the holidays by hanging stuffed animals and dolls from a tree in her front yard. With fishing line. Around their necks. People from surrounding states would drive over just to see this because nothing, obviously, says Christmas like a tree in a front yard with dozens of eerily silent teddy bears and Cabbage Patch Kids swaying in the breeze. The woman scoured yard sales and flea markets all year for her Tree Toy collection because, it was said, she wanted to do something “for the children.”  However, my children — and every other child around as well as most adults — were traumatized every year and refused to drive, walk, run, bike, skate or otherwise go anywhere near that house during the holidays. Younger Daughter later admitted she’d had nightmares about the Tree Toys coming to life and it was a long and dark time before she could pick up a teddy bear without shuddering. The Toy Tree appeared for several consecutive years … until one year, the tree was empty. Rumor had it that the woman had given in to public pressure and decided to give up her decorating scheme. But it seemed as if her spirit was broken, because no sign of the holidays ever showed up in her yard again. No wreaths. No inflatable snow globes. No Santa Claus standing at the manager along with the shepherds and the Three Wise Men. The crowds abandoned our neighborhood and started driving over to the five-acre light extravaganza in the next county. Our street was (relatively) safe again, and all we have left are memories of the Tree Toys … and maybe, with Crazy-Eyed Snowperson here, the start of a new tradition.