I have been hemming and hawing about this piece. I had a plan, but reconsidered. And it’s all inspired by tomorrow’s Downtown Racine Holiday Parade.

We try to attend the downtown events as often as we can. Of course, most of those days are in the comfortable summer months, which is more appealing. But somehow, my family is usually able to get me off my pajama-covered butt and bundle up enough to get to Monument Square for the holiday parade. And typically, I am glad we attend. The kids enjoy it, the event isn’t ridiculously long and the crowds aren’t too suffocating.

Last year was an extra interesting experience.

I am a crazy camera lady. When family members see me coming, they hide. When the kids see me coming, they ham it up. I can always be found snapping shots. And last year’s parade was no exception. Apparently, I was so busy taking pictures; I almost missed witnessing The Great Ornament Heist.

As I tried to get my kids to pose, I suddenly heard my family gasping and giggling.

“Did you see that??”

“What is he doing??”

“Oh my God, LOOK!”

I finally got them to explain their flabbergasted fuss. They saw a guy – a kid, really – walk right up to the tree and take an extra large ornament right off the branch. Directly (even touching) Santa!! Very casually, in front of everyone – he simply decided he really needed that decoration.

By the time they told me and I figured out what they were talking about, the dude was gone. Nobody seemed to notice or like us, say anything. The bandit was quick. But not THAT quick.

When we got home, they were still talking about it. And suddenly I realized I had been pointing the camera in that very direction at the time of this Christmas caper. I grabbed the computer and the camera to begin my investigation.

Whatdaya know. Red handed, I caught the punk. I got a clear shot of him bending over and maneuvering the ornament off the tree. Face and all, right in frame.

I posted it on Facebook. But it didn’t catch much attention and I didn’t think much about it after that. I suppose I could have sent it to the police, but really – don’t they have better things to do? I just left it alone. I mean, it’s not like I caught someone raping a child in the locker room. I just didn’t feel, in my gut, that it needed to be pursued.

I was initially going to post the picture with this story. But I have since reconsidered for a couple of reasons. One, out of fear and the other out of being…I don’t know, compassionate?

I mean, I don’t know this kid. I’d say he was around 15, maybe. He wasn’t dressed very warmly, but he had one of those rubber cause bracelets on. Other than that, I know nothing about him. I think I need to consider the safety of my family, my home and myself when I write in public. I often worry how people will react to my words and I thought this may have pushed my luck a bit.

Also, for all I know, this kid could have taken the past year getting his life together. Maybe he has found his path after a mischievous childhood. Perhaps he regrets what he did. Maybe it was the only time in his life he ever did something like that. Maybe he has already been punished harshly by his parents. I simply don’t know enough to take the chance with throwing a hammer at this kid’s life. This year could have been his year of change – would I really want to destroy that?

It’s kind of what I was saying in my last piece about being responsible with our power. I really had to sit and think about what the possible consequences to my choices could be. And while I think posting the picture may get a fair amount of reaction and attention – I really don’t know if that would be the right thing to do. So, this time my words will have to be enough.

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