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  • My father has always been this powerful and stoic presence in my life; it is often the joke amongst other members of my family that he only has one emotion-anger. However, he always seems to soften around the Holidays; as a child I remember him being so jovial at Christmas.

    Like every kid I loved-loved-loved Christmas lights, and since I had the best daddy in the world mine would aways go all out. Looking back as an adult I now know that was truly an act of love. We had a huge house and lived in a heavily wooded area (not a lot of neighbors); my father must have known that our family would be some of the only people to see and enjoy them, but he still went through all that work every year. And, every year it was beautiful. We would always have blinking multicolored lights around our roof and porch, a huge star on our chimney, and dozens of those plastic light-up characters (gingerbread men, choir boys, snowmen, and the big guy himself-Santa). I'm sure if those modern-day inflatable decorations were around in the 1980's we would have had those too.

    Those light-up plastic characters meant a lot to dad, though. They belonged to his relatives-men and women who passed away long before I ever opened my eyes. My father had many beloved possessions: guns, books, a vintage poster of John Wayne, but those Christmas decorations were by far his favorite. Were.

    I can remember one year when I was maybe three or four years old; a local teenager came to our house in the middle of the night, drove on the edge of the road very close to our home, and while he was still in his car, grabbed a line of lights, ripped them from our property and drug them down the street. He did this three or four times; we would wake up to a commotion outside and go out to find our lights all tangled and some destroyed. It was hard enough on my dad to have to go back every morning and re-do all of his work, but when he found some of those plastic characters destroyed something in him broke.

    Now, like I wrote earlier, the only emotion that my father is able to convey is anger, and boy could he ever convey it. This poor kid never stood a chance.

    Along with being a master Christmas light decorator, my father is also an engineer and a real life MacGyver (He once fixed my old Taurus with some spare metal, a soldering gun, and a Nazi war knife-but that's another story). And, using various materials the he had around the house, he made a spring-loaded booby trap for our unsuspecting vandal. Dad figured out through some kind of math (I take after my more artistic relatives-ain't got much of an engineer in me at all) the exact path that this kid must have taken, and placed the trigger to his trap there. Then he waited.

    I don't remember if it was that night or several nights later, but one winter evening in the late 1980's my father's brilliant plan and somewhat evil device worked. As he had done so many times before, the same punk drove down our wooded street, probably some kind of cheesy metal band blasting through his radio, and just as he pulled closer to hour house intending to once again destroy our Christmas spirit-it struck.

    About a half-dozen twisted metal spikes sprung forth from their camouflage of leaves and snow and embedded themselves deep within the driver's side door of our vandal's sedan. This kid had to have been terrified knowing that he just damaged the family car and must have been pushed over the edge when out of the darkness came the glowing ember of a cigarette and a deep guttural voice, “You mess with the bull; you get the horns.”

    The poor jerk hit the gas pedal with the force of an exploding sun, which tore the car free but left the door panel still gored on the spikes. The next morning my father chained and locked his “trophy” to a retainer wall outside of our house and added this note, “If you are man enough, the keys to the locks are in the house.”

    He never came.
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