Warning! Candy Cane Approaching!

Hi Readers: Notes from a Culture Gone Crazy, Part 9278:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Tonight we attended our local town holiday parade. What could be better for kids? The kids were all screaming and shouting for beads, candy canes, candy, and random other loot. The first group to pass our spot handed our boys a few candy canes. Beads and Tootsie Rolls were whizzing past our heads. The next group HANDED each kid another candy cane while other candy flew past with amazing speed, tossed by small children up high on the floats. Then more HANDING out of the candy-canes.

Finally, I was told that it was against the parade rules to “throw” candy-canes as someone could get hurt. Beads and packs of M&Ms apparently can not harm a child as much, so they were in the “safe to throw” category.

Another parade member passed by and said,  “Candy-canes could poke out an eye so we have to hand them out.”

This was even worse than the “snowball festival” from last weekend where a mother suggested to me that next year they set up targets for the kids to throw the snowballs at because it was far too dangerous to throw them at each other.  AGHHHHH! — Laurie Reed

Weapons of (Christ)mas Destruction

Hi Readers! So many folks sent in this story today, I present it to you in all its insanity, even though it struck me as a little too bizarre and garbled to be 100% accurate. For instance, the crazy accusations were reported to the press only by one of the accused. Ho ho hmm.

Still, Christmas is a time for stories so — enjoy. But first, keep your children safe! Lock up the candy canes!   L.

Christmas Movies “Too Scary” For Kids?

Readers — Either I am not getting the joke, or this is a REAL article about why parents should REALLY worry about letting their kids watch “scary” movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and (I kid you not — unless she’s kidding us ALL), “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Anybody? It it a joke or not? And if it IS a joke, where’s the punchline? And if it’s NOT a joke, where’s the Abombinable Snowman when you need him? — L.

Outrage of the Week: Beloved Santa Fired for a Joke

Ho Ho Grrrrr, Readers: If I had a sleigh, I’d be on my way out to the Macy’s in San Fran which just sacked its beloved Santa, despite the fact he’d been doing the gig for 20 years. Some folks even made special trips just to visit the man known as “Santa John.” But then he did something unforgivable! According to this report in sfgate.com, he was booted after an adult couple complained about a joke he’d cracked:

The joke has been in his Santa bag for decades. But after thousands of tellings, the 68-year-old retired caretaker for the elderly finally hit the wrong recipients – apparently an older woman and her husband, who considered it inappropriate.

Toomey – who stays in Oroville most summers and winters in San Francisco while he does the kiddie-on-the-knee gig – said he’d never had complaints before about the joke, which he saves for the occasional grown-up who visits him.

“When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they’ve been good and they say, ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Gee, that’s too bad,’ ” Toomey said Monday.

“Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it’s because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live.”

The kids who sit on his lap, he said, get only his trademark laugh and questions about what toys they want.

Macy’s spokeswoman Betsy Nelson said the store cannot comment because the matter involves personnel.

But several workers used words including “devastated” and “overreaction” to describe their take on Santa John being booted from his throne at Santaland on the seventh floor. They all asked not be named because store policy forbids them from speaking publicly about such matters, but their un-yule-ish gloom was palpable.

“People make a pilgrimage to see him every year, some for as long as 15 years,” said one worker. “Everyone loves him. Everybody’s just heartsick about this.”

I can’t wait to see the movie about this story: “Miracle on Stupid, Paranoid, Everyone’s-a-Predator Street.”  In these touchy times, I guess you can dandle thousands of delighted kids on your knee, but make one piffling joke that some uptight adult finds “inappropriate” and that’s enough to scare the (Santa) suits. Out into the cold you go, Mr. Kringle, and here’s a lump of coal for those two decades.

Personally, I love Macy’s here in New York City. I love its parade, its building, its wild hum of humanity. But this firing out in San Fran brings to mind  the “Miracle on 34th Street” exec who booked Santa into Bellevue.

Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to, so please repeat after me: “I believe that at some point America WILL regain its sanity. It’s silly, but I believe. It’s silly, but I believe…” — L

Santa Claus is coming to town. Oh no!

Ho, Ho, Ho! Scarrrry Christmas!

Hi Folks — My friend, who is a magazine editor, is already compiling her December gift guide (of course), and one of the many products that just crossed her desk is this: A backpack with a built-in car alarm! Just pull the string and the thing starts shrieking. “Because,” my friend noted, “nothings says ‘Happy Holidays’ quite like a school bag with a built-in car alarm.”

Yes, that is why we are friends.

Good day/night from Australia — Lenore (who is not giving out the URL for the backpack peddlers because they don’t deserve publicity).

Merry Christmas — And A Present!

Hi Readers! This photo montage has been making the rounds. Thought I’d share it, too. I’ve seen it headlined, “Why Boys Need Moms,” and, “Why Boys Need Parents.” (As opposed to the post two below this one: Why Boys Need Lawyers.) Enjoy, but don’t bother to tell us that not all these pix are in good taste. We know.

Meantime, if you celebrate Xmas, hope it’s a merry one! Save those boxes for your kids to play with. — Lenore

O Octomom, O Octomon (Sing Along!)

‘Tis Christmas Carol parody season. Here’s one of mine, below. For more — including “Text My Cell” to Jingle Bells, and “Frosty the Outsourced Snowman” —  check out ParentDish.com and Creators.com, my two other gigs!  (And I won’t tell you which one has the Tiger Woods Greensleeves song, “Whose Texts Are These?”) — Lenore

by Lenore Skenazy

O Octomom, O Octomom
You hear the patter, pitter
Like Jon and Kate
You, too, had eight —
Except in just one litter
It must be hard to keep them fed
And patty-caked and put to bed
O Octomom don’t call upon
Me when you need a sitter.


Do We Really Have To Worry About Kids Impaling Themselves on Batman Dolls?

That, my friends, is the question I ask today in my alternate life on ParentDish.com. I am really getting sick of all the warnings about dangerous toys.

On a very related note: Today there was a report about all the hideous dangers of holiday  ornaments. I agree: You probably don’t want to put a hand-blown crystal ball from Bavaria in the crib next to the toy hammer.  But please. The report  mentions 76 Xmas-occasioned hospital visits over the course of 13 years, or about 7 a year.

Maybe while we’re at it we should start issuing  warnings about holidays requiring dress shoes, because of the danger of tripping over untied laces. Or holidays where the family gathers together in a single room,  as overcrowding on the couch could cause someone to slide off.  And let’s not forget the very real dangers of candy canes!

There must be some very real dangers of candy canes, right? — Lenore

If a Man Photographs Your Kid with Santa Should We Arrest Him?

Hi Readers — Here’s the latest story of a guy, a camera, a warm little Santa scene at the mall…and an arrest. Apparently Scott Rensberger, an award-winning news photographer who has covered conflicts as far away as Bosnia, was at his local mall in West Virginia with the camera he always carries with him. He snapped some pix of Santa and the choir, whereupon a couple of dads insisted he delete the photos because their kids were in them, which he did.

This already gets my goat. (Or reindeer, perhaps.) Why do dads think they are being “safe” and “smart” when they insist on no photos of their kids — in group shots, not less? What nefarious scheme do they imagine those fully clothed photos are going to be used for? Why are we so paranoid and self-righteous all the time when it comes to our kids?

Anyway, after doing some shopping,  Scott was back near Santa’s village, whereupon two of the dads from before pointed to him out to a cop. The cop approached and, according to Scott,  manhandled him. Scott tried to take his picture and ended up in a holding cell.

Enough of this kind of proactive “safety”! We are so worried that all men are perverts and that all children are about to be exploited, that we have lost our  minds.

Kids are part of the world. Taking their pictures is not taking their souls —  I though we established that a while ago. This season, when it comes to fearing for our children every second of every day, even when they’re standing a few feet away from us at the mall,  let’s do like the temperature and CHILL! — Lenore

When Is A Christmas Tree PERFECTLY Safe?

Here’s when. I thought this article was a joke. Then I thought the tree was. Then I remembered: We are living in 2009.

This cone-tree, erected in a public square, has no pine needles to poke an eye out, no branches to clobber anyone, no feature at all to remind us that trees — and people — live in the real world. And maybe come spring  the town will erect a shoe box representing that other great threat to humanity:  the Easter Bunny. — Lenore