LORDS-A-LEAPING – (day 10)


Monica Marier

            Tomas stood back and admired his work. Awesome, he thought with satisfaction. The hollow plastic bodies he’d just purchased were strewn across the lawn like the remnants of a drunken party. Clapping his chapped hands, Tomas was trembling with excitement and the cold. This was going to be great.

            He’d been wanting to do this for years. He’d made the cave out of wire and plaster in his garage. Now, painted grey and waterproofed, it sat on his manicured lawn under which was a kneeling Virgin Mary and Joseph. The manger they were gazing at in rapt adoration was empty and would remain so until Christmas day. Whistling, he picked up a shepherd. That was when he heard the sharp clipping of high-heels on his walkway.

            Tomas saw Renee Lords approaching him and muttered an oath under his breath. He looked guiltily at the shepherd who’d ‘overheard’ him and whispered an apology.

            “HOLA SEÑOR ORTEGA!” cried Renee in the loud cheerful voice she used when addressing him. It was the deliberate slow voice generally used with preschoolers. Renee never remembered that he was a third generation Latino from Dayton.

            “Hello, Renee,” said Tomas, wincing. Renee was smiling –  never a good sign. Her 250lb gorilla of a son, Raymond, stood stupidly on the sidewalk, waiting.

            “I notice that you’re putting up some Christmas decorations!” said Renee, still smiling her plastic grimace.

            “Uh-huh,” said Tomas, bushing back his thinning hair as he put down the shepherd.

            “I just wanted to have a little chat with you about that.”


            “You might remember I’m president of the Homeowners Association?”

            “Uh-huh.” Here we go.

            “Well before you got…” Renee flicked a hand at the figurines, “…all this set up, I just wanted to go over the rules for holiday decorations with you.”

            “Sure,” said Tomas with pained politeness, his hands balling into fists.

            “You see there’s a clause in your HOA agreement limiting holiday lights and displays to tasteful decoration.”


            “And I’m afraid your decorations don’t fall within that rule.”

            “It’s not tasteful?” asked Tomas.

            “Well some people might find it…” Renee leaned in, “offensive.” She said the word in a low whisper like the word itself was something loathsome.

            “What’s offensive about it?”

            “Well some people… like Mrs. Leibowitz, might take offence.” Ms. Lords whispered the woman’s name. Tomas had the mental picture of a neon sign flashing ‘JEW.’ 

            “Mrs. Leibowitz has a 10-foot-tall inflatable Winnie-the-Pooh holding a menorah,” said Tomas.

            “She’s simply celebrating her diversity,” said Ms. Lords admonishingly. Again, Tomas saw a little sign above her head saying, ‘you’re not an anti-Semite are you?’

            “If she can have a menorah, why can’t I have my Nativity?”

            “We mustn’t begrudge Mrs. Leibowitz the right to celebrate her culture, Señor Ortega.”

            “So while she’s celebrating her culture with her display, I’m oppressing her culture with mine?” asked Tomas incredulously.

            “I knew you’d get it,” said Renee sighing in relief. “I’m sorry to make you put all this away. If you like, I know a place that sells great light-up Santas.”

            He glared at her condescension. “I don’t want to put Santa Claus on my house. I’m going to put up my Nativity.”

            Renee’s smile fell. “Mr. Ortega,” she said, forgetting to call him ‘Señor’, “I think you’re being very unreasonable about this.”

            “Since the rules don’t explicitly ban displays of a religious nature, and gives no definition of “tasteful” I’m within my rights to put up my display on my property.”

            “I don’t think that’s a very wise decision,” Renee said eventually. “People tend to get very angry over these types of display.”

            “People like you?” asked Tomas.

            “Mr. Ortega. I’m giving you fair warning. I won’t be responsible for what happens to your house, because you insist on putting out this offensive display in defiance of our holiday cheer.”

            “In defiance of it?” asked Tomas incredulously. “What do you think Christmas is about? THIS is Christmas,” he said pointing to the holy family. “I want to share my joy that our savior came to Earth as a tiny baby in a humble stable. It’s not a flaming cross or a white hood; it’s a family. This isn’t some attack against Mrs. Leibowitz (though I think a fan-powered inflatable balloon wasn’t the best choice of lawn decoration). I’m sure if you asked her if she was offended by my decorations, she’d just look at you funny. You can choose to hide behind your plastic Santas. You can berate me for being proud of what I believe in, but I will NOT take this symbol of peace and love.”

            Ms. Lord’s face began to contort into a horrible mask. It was amazing how she could emote through her remodeled face, and it frightened Tomas, but something had spoken through him and it gave him courage.

            “Well… we’ll have to see about changing the rules for next year,” said Renee in a deadly whisper.

            “And until that time, I’m keeping it up,” finished Tomas.

            “Good bye, Mr. Ortega.”

            “Merry Christmas,” said Tomas. He didn’t know why he said it, but it felt right. Ms. Lords momentarily lost her balance after backing into the prone figurine of Balthazar the wise man. She righted herself and marched off in a huff, her gigantic son trailing behind her with a finger up his nose.

            Later that evening, Tomas was putting up interior lights when he heard a howl from the lawn. He looked out his window to see Raymond Lords leaping up and down amidst the brightly lit Nativity. The wire-cutters he’d been carrying had been dropped on the grass and his hand was in his mouth. Tears rolled down his fat face.

            Seeing Tomas at the window, the kid cried out and, still cursing and moaning, ran away. Tomas checked the car battery that was powering the electric wire running through all the figurines… which had given a stinging shock to Raymond Lords. “Peace on Earth, bitch,” Tomas whispered, grinning.


14 Responses to “LORDS-A-LEAPING – (day 10)”

  1. ganymeder


    And *THAT* is exactly why we moved somewhere without a homeowners association! *claps*


  2. Angie

    I’d say give ’em Hell, but it somehow doesn’t seem appropriate! *lol* great job!

  3. PJ Kaiser

    This is a riot, Monica! As the president of our condo association, this made me laugh heartily! My favorite part is the 10-foot-tall inflatable Winnie-the-Pooh holding a menorah. Peace on earth, indeed 😉

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  5. Patti Larsen

    LOL! This was fantastic! Great job and great message. 🙂

  6. Sam Adamson

    And that’s why I’m glad to live where I do, not many homeowner’s associations in my neck of the woods, thank goodness. I really enjoyed the story, and the message. I must confess to a snigger when Raymond got the shock, is that so wrong of me? 😉

  7. Tony Noland

    No homeowner’s association here, either. Ho ho ho, muthafocker!

  8. lil_monmon

    Thanks for the great comments. I admit I was a little worried about the subject matter. It’s an issue that’s caused a lot of anger out in Leesburg (remember that town Toby Keith was talking about in “A Colbert Christmas Special?” That was Leesburg.) But I wanted to stick my neck out a little and say what’s important to me and why. And of course I have to put my psycho little spin on it. (heh)

  9. TEC4

    Loved it, absolutely loved it! And I too, confess that I snickered when the kid got shocked. You go, Tomas! 🙂 (and as a believer, loved his statement …)

  10. David G Shrock

    Fun story. The old car battery trick.

  11. Eric J. Krause

    Excellent! Too bad the charge wasn’t a bit higher. Oops. Thoughts of oppressive homeowners associations seemed to have taken some of my holiday cheer… 😉

  12. Cecilia Dominic

    LOL Good for him! Gads, I hate those inflatable decorations, but I won’t begrudge those who want to put them out. Hubby and I deliberately looked for a neighborhood without an HOA because of crap like that.

    Merry Christmas!


  13. Melissa

    haha! I loved the part where he keeps picturing the flashing signs above her. This was a nice light hearted holiday story.

  14. Shadow


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