Santa Claws

Lately there’s been a mass exodus of childhood trinkets from my parents’ house to the DIY Mess. In a succession of recent mailings and personal deliveries, Mom and Dad have reunited me with a boat load of My Little Ponies, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and Muppets, as well the tattered, knotted remains of the pink-and-blue afghan formerly known as Wank.

It looks like Christmas 1984 in here.

I’m glad for the reunion; I do love having the band back together. Problem is, in addition to all my old pals, I’m also acquiring things I’ve never seen before in my life.

“I don’t remember these baby dolls,” I say. “They’re kinda creepy looking. Were they mine?”

“They were with your stuff,” Mom says.

“Um. Mom, the question was: Were they mine?”

Mom looks at me with conviction, an empty nester hell-bent on downsizing and decluttering. “They were with your stuff.”

Why is it that it’s so hard to toss toys, even when they’re not yours? For lack of a better plan, I put The Baby Dolls of Unknown Origin in the guest-room closet. At the moment, that closet has no door, so the dolls have been staring Dylan down, weirding him out. Last week he sanded the guest-room ceiling for two days straight, and the snowy, aging affect made the dolls look even creepier. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to pitch them.

One evening, I went out with a friend and left Dylan home alone to admire the progress of these last few weeks: a brand new cherry floor in my office, a big beautiful new pantry he made to match our kitchen cabinets, a gorgeous mantle for the living room that he and J built from scratch (see photos here).

It was dusk. The radio station was shifting from the NPR News Hour to smooth jazz—not his cup of tea—but at the moment he was so contented that he didn’t care about the soundtrack. What a rare treat—a holy-crap-I’m-actually-making-PROGRESS moment.

Just then, Dylan heard a loud, terrifying scratching sound down the hall—coming from the guest room. Good thing I wasn’t there. My first thought would’ve been: Bewitched baby dolls come to life! Aaaaaaaah!!!

The sound was coming from the fireplace, which, like every other fireplace in the house, had been walled in years before we got here. Last year we opened up every single fireplace on the second floor EXCEPT that one, on account of the room being so small. And thank God for that.

Apparently, a large, clawed animal—a raccoon—had pulled a Santa on us and slid down the chimney. It was trying to bust through the plaster that Dylan had JUST finished repairing and smoothing THAT DAY. Damn thing managed to scratch four tiny holes all the way through the wall (!).

Primal rage consumed my husband. He a grabbed the only weapon he had—a caulk gun—and shot several rounds into each hole. He turned the smooth-jazz waaaaaay up, pounded his fist on the plaster, and screamed, “This is *MY* house, you [bleepity bleeping bleep]! THIS! IS! MY! HOUSE!!!”

I came home that night to find Dylan shell-shocked on the couch.

The clawing noise is gone. We can only assume the raccoon either succumbed to a fatal saxophoning, or climbed back out through the chimney. With each passing day that does not bring the stench of death into our guest room, we’re a little more encouraged that it’s the latter.

Dylan’s moxie has emboldened me. The baby dolls’ days are numbered.

Bah, humbug.

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