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I wish I could say we all survived the holidays, but the Noel Nasties claimed some casualties.

My nine loyal readers may recall I can be a Grinch around Christmas when I’m afflicted with a case of what Bromleys call the Noel Nasties. I start the season gleefully singing “Silver Bells,” but around Dec. 25 I’m switching around the lyrics and changing the title to “Strangled Elves.”

Apparently I’m not alone. Police arrested a Green Bay man for tearing down a neighbor’s Christmas decorations. While drunk. And naked. No doubt his chestnuts were looking for the nearest open fire.

According to a criminal complaint, Gregory Brannigan’s neighbor called police Dec. 19 to report the 61-year-old was naked and appeared to be intoxicated. He was kicking her door and tearing down her decorations. Hey, not everyone likes tinsel.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported Brannigan faces misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer. Plus, he surely landed on Santa’s naughty list.

There was no word on whether Brannigan faced the charges with the same defiance I exhibited as a child when, during a December tantrum, my parents informed me Santa’s elf was watching and would report my behavior to the big guy. I scrunched up my nose, looked out the window and declared, “Elf, YOU a BUTT!” I don’t think I got anything I wanted that year.

Anyway, back to the story: Police said Brannigan was stumbling and told them he needed to take care of supposed drug dealers in his neighbor’s apartment. A breath test estimated his blood-alcohol level at 0.21, but he wasn’t about to stand for any substance abuse on the premises.

Let’s face it, a sip of the sacrament can go a long way toward surviving the holidays. It can be a tense time of year. Christmas is a budget buster, and sometimes spending days on end with family is too much of a good thing. Plus, it’s stressful getting to all the pageants and parties and concerts, all of which are as packed as the stores. It’s hard to contemplate the wonder of peace on earth when you spend December shoved into strangers’ armpits.

But there’s something about the holiday spirit that, in the end, overcomes not only the Noel Nasties but the occasional armed man in the middle of a prolonged police standoff.

I take you to East Vincent Township, Pennsylvania, where an armed man held off a SWAT team for 10 hours. He only surrendered after someone on the SWAT team sang him a Christmas carol.

Police responded to Nathaniel Lewis’ home Dec. 26 after a concerned relative reported he had acted erratically Christmas night. If everyone starts calling the cops every time a relative acts weird on Christmas, the jails will be full.

The Reading Eagle reported the 34-year-old allegedly fired at the officers, hitting their vehicle, a house and another vehicle. Police returned fire. Forget falling snow, nothing says “Christmas” like a hail of bullets.

A negotiator eventually got Lewis to surrender after singing “White Christmas” to him. Bada-boom bada-Bing. Fortunately, the guy didn’t respond to this sweet gesture by scrunching up his nose and declaring, “Negotiator, YOU a BUTT!”

Lewis was taken to the Chester County jail and charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and other offenses. Meanwhile, the negotiator, as if appearing in a Hallmark movie, proved to the world that the Christmas spirit can cure all ills.

Next year if you feel like you’re coming down with the Noel Nasties, or you’re considering interrupting a bender to remove your clothing and your neighbor’s holiday display, or you feel moved to compare an elf to a rump, take a deep breath and sing “White Christmas.” If that doesn’t work, try “Strangled Elves.”

Follow columnist Ben Bromley on Twitter at ben_bromley.

Baraboo News Republic Senior Reporter

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