LEAD STORY -- Oops!
Matt Hightower of Overland Park, Kansas, was home alone with his three kids in mid-December 2020 when he switched on the oven in preparation for making dinner. Inside, unfortunately, were the family's three Elves on the Shelf, who had been put there the night before to "warm up" after a day of being held captive in the refrigerator by the "bad milk," KCTV reported. "Babe ... I cooked the elves," Hightower confessed to his wife, Chelsea, who was out Christmas shopping. "Thankfully," said Chelsea, after a frantic search around town, "Jingle, Belle and Magic have made a miraculous recovery and are back to their silly ways." [KCTV, 12/14/2020]
From 2008: The Christmas Nativity scenes in northeast Spain's Catalonia region have, for three centuries, featured not only Mary and the Three Wise Men but the ubiquitous "caganer" icon, always portrayed with pants down answering a call of nature (and often so obscured in the scene as to popularize Where's-Waldo-type guessing by children). The origin of the caganer (literally, "pooper") is unclear, but some regard it merely as symbolic of equality (in that everyone has bowel movements). Catalonia is now home to artists who craft statuettes of religious figures poised to relieve themselves, and the franchise extends to renditions of sports figures and celebrities (and even a squatting President Bush). One family in Girona province sells about 25,000 a year, according to a November dispatch in Germany's Der Spiegel.
Weird Christmas Tradition
Since 1966, the city of Gavle, Sweden, has erected a huge straw goat in its downtown square at Christmastime. The goats are pagan symbols that preceded Santa Claus as a bringer of gifts, the Associated Press reported. But in what has become an adjunct to the town's tradition, the goats have been torched dozens of times during the past 55 years, including on Dec. 17, 2021. Police arrested a suspect in his 40s who had soot on his hands and matched a description from witnesses. [Associated Press, 12/17/2021]
The Way the World Works
Those large inflatable Christmas decorations may fill the hearts of children with holiday cheer, but one young ursid saw a sparring partner and went on the attack in Monrovia, California, on Dec. 8, 2021. Donna Hargett captured video of a bear cub wrestling with her neighbor's inflatable reindeer as the mama bear looked on, United Press International reported. "I looked up and there it was, jumping on the reindeer," Hargett said. "We see these two around all the time. They're trouble," she said. In fact, Hargett said they once broke into her home and left paw prints on the bed. No word on Rudolph's condition. [UPI, 12/10/2021]
Rob and Marcela Wild of Robertson, South Africa, figured there might be a mouse in their newly decorated Christmas tree when their cats started watching it intently on Dec. 10, 2021. Instead, they found one of the most venomous snakes in Africa: a boomslang, CNN reported. The Wilds called on snake catcher Gerrie Heyns, who used "snake tongs" to put it on the floor. "Once I had it under control, the family came right up to see the snake," Heyns said. "A scary moment turned into an exciting moment for the children." Heyns released the female snake, about 4 1/2 feet long, back into the wild a couple of days later. [CNN, 12/14/2021]
Christmas Madness From 2006
-- In November, the upscale New York City menswear and accessories store Jack Spade removed from its holiday catalog a $40 frog-dissection kit (with a real carcass) after numerous queries from people wondering what in the world the store was thinking.
-- A holiday party for inmates at Britain's Peterborough Jail promised a fun time with Xbox consoles and PlayStations, along with cash gifts of 5 pounds each (about $9 U.S.), which is greater than the value of the candy boxes the jail will give its guards for Christmas.
-- Police in Rock Hill, S.C., put a 12-year-old boy under arrest at the insistence of his mother after he had defied her and opened his Christmas gift three weeks early.
Justin and Nissa-Lynn Parson of McKinney, Texas, were all in when their son Cayden, 12, asked for a magnifying glass for Christmas. "We thought, 'Oh, he wants to magnify something'" to read, Nissa-Lynn told KDFW. Instead, Cayden and his brother, Ashton, used the glass to light a newspaper on fire on the family's front porch, which soon spread to the yard, eventually destroying the lawn and some of the family's Christmas lights. "We ran inside and started screaming," Cayden said. The family doused the fire with "pitchers of water, blankets smothering it, sprinklers turned on, hose turned on," Nissa-Lynn recounted, adding that now Cayden "will definitely have yard work to do once spring comes." [KDFW, 12/29/2019]
Japanese YouTuber Marina Fujiwara has harnessed the pain she feels when she sees couples basking in their love at the holidays and developed a sort of schadenfreudian device: a light that turns on whenever anyone breaks up on social media. Oddity Central reported on Dec. 27, 2019, that Fujiwara's device is connected to the internet through a "bridge" and is set to light up whenever a breakup status is posted on Twitter. "I want to celebrate Christmas," she said. "But when you see a couple in the world going on a Christmas date and doing something like that, I am attacked by a huge sense of loneliness." While her machine is not available commercially, Fujiwara says it's easy enough to set one up for yourself. [Oddity Central, 12/27/2019]
When 5-year-old TyLon Pittman of Byram, Mississippi, saw the Grinch stealing Christmas on Dec. 16, 2017, on TV, he did what any civic-minded citizen would do. He called 911. TyLon told Byram police officer Lauren Develle, who answered the call, that he did not want the Grinch to come steal his Christmas, reported the Clarion Ledger. Develle made TyLon an honorary junior officer and had him come down to the station on Dec. 18 to help her lock away the Grinch, who hung his head as TyLon asked him, "Why are you stealing Christmas?" Although the green fiend apologized, TyLon wouldn't release him from the holding cell. Police chief Luke Thompson told TyLon to come back when he's 21, "and I'm going to give you a job application, OK?" [Clarion Ledger, 12/18/2017]
I Have a Message
Sarah Childs won a restraining order in Denham Springs, Louisiana, in December 2012, forbidding the town from shutting down her "Christmas" lights decoration. The large outdoor display (in a neighborhood with traditional Christmas displays) was the image of two hands with middle fingers extended. [WAFB-TV, 12-21-2012]
The Aristocrats From 2007
New York City has more than 400 soup kitchens, but nothing else like the Broadway Presbyterian Church's, where master chef Michael Ennes presides three days a week, turning leftover restaurant ingredients into gourmet meals. In fact, one pre-Christmas meal included octopus, as well as day-old bread from Le Bernardin restaurant. Ennes told London's Independent that he is motivated by the chance to help troubled people get "real nutrition," but that he also likes serving "famous" homeless people, such as diners who claim to be, among others, George Bush, George Washington and Jesus Christ.
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