Douglas Hill
opinion, humor and small town common sense
Sunday, December 19, 2004

Keepers of the Hollyballs

Christmas Hollyball Posted by Hello

Sound the alarm. Am I too late? The hollyball season is upon us. And let’s face it, these pernicious decorations are among the most abused sights of all seasons.

How many of you have had the scents and sounds of a new spring day invaded by the sight of a brown, shriveled globe with frayed, faded ribbon, swaying lightly in a May breeze? Sometimes multiple such effronteries are suspended from a single porch – relics of Christmas past – long past.

Who are these people, these fanatical keepers of the hollyball?

They otherwise look like ordinary people, except perhaps in late November, when they can be seen lurking outside of the local florist shops, awaiting the first arrival of the infamous balls.

Many of you no doubt despair that there can be any relief from the unending displays of your neighbor. But I say, “nay, where there is a will, there is a way.” And it does not even take an Act of Congress – just an order from the City Council, or an executive order from the Mayor.

BE IT RESOLVED: Whereas the community at large is sick to death of the spring effrontery of hollyballs past their prime, so therefore, let there be enacted a deposit and return policy to control the delayed removal of said dead hollyballs; be it further resolved that hollyballs be sold only by licensed vendors trained in the evaluation of potential purchasers, and that they be armed with a list of repeat offenders; that no hollyball be sold prior to December 5th; that a $25 deposit be required upon purchase, to be fully refunded to the purchaser if returned to the place of purchase on or before January 5th, but that each day thereafter a $1-per-day penalty be assessed from the deposit for tardy returns. As a further inducement to civil obedience, be it enacted that hollyball disposal be exempted from the orange dump sticker obligation, if and only if, at the time of disposal said hollyball is green in color, and not brown – spray painting being a disqualification.

To digress slightly, one is constrained to wonder where those precious little rapscallions are who devote so much effort to instantly disposing of pumpkin displays. Are they too tired after the recent season of pumpkin pummeling to bash a few hollyballs? The parallels seem so obvious – spherical holiday season decorations displayed at the front of the house, outside, within easy reach . . . so why has the hollyball been spared – some form of unnatural selection?

Now I do not mean to incite vandalism, but consider if you will, vandals caught smashing pumpkins could be ordered by the court to a term of community service involving hollyball bashing. The timing works out perfectly; justice would be served – and swift and merciful for the community. I tell you, there is symmetry to it.

Now, I too have heard that old saw that these decrepit balls are winter havens for birds – to which I reply, that may have been so in days long past, when such balls were actually composed of intertwined holly branches, but let’s face it, today such a use would likely result in brain damage to the unwitting creatures as the collided with the Styrofoam® ball lurking just beneath the surface of the projecting holly twigs, in their unhappy attempt to descend into the bosom of that artificial nest.

I know, I know; others insist that they want to get their money’s worth. But why should that admirable spirit of parsimony be so narrowly focused, like a string of laser light, on this one modest purchase? To those I say, expand that frugal spirit to other objects of purchase! Dilute this myopic focus on the hollyball!

On the other hand, the revenues from the unclaimed deposits would probably be enough to fund the north Gloucester sewer project. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Henry David Thoreau

Simon & Garfunkel

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