Mommy, why is Santa holding a bloody knife and a disembodied head? Be glad you didn’t face this question last week—unless, of course, you’re a neighbor to the couple on East 18th Street who displayed a murderous five-foot Saint Nick out front as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas. Suddenly, the debate in Manhasset, on Long Island, over whether the town hoisted a “Christmas tree” or a “holiday tree” seemed remarkably civilized. All of which was ideal grist for satirist Stephen Colbert, who helpfully pointed out that the Christmas tree is a tradition so deeply rooted in Christianity that it actually predates Christ. But these weren’t the week’s only hot-button issues, as New Yorkers trembled at the threat of a transit strike (unresolved as we went to press—here’s a vote for reasoned compromise, or at least abundant rickshaws). The Daily News took up the cause of tougher penalties for crimes against cops, after a second officer was killed in just over a month, while the Post took up the cause of King Kong, snubbed in the “weirdest ever” Golden Globe nominations. (Both papers pounded on Sheldon Silver for missing one cop’s funeral, then popping in at the wake of the other.) The Ziegfeld jacked movie-ticket prices to $12.50 for The Producers, and Radar magazine expired, again. And Tom Cruise arrived (with a quite pregnant Katie Holmes) to raise money for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, a Scientology-related program that treats 9/11 firefighters who inhaled toxic smoke, prescribing a cleansing regimen of sauna visits, cooking oil, and niacin. (FDNY doctors were not pleased.) USC quarterback Matt Leinart reached out in his own way—after his loss of the Heisman to teammate Reggie Bush, he hit Marquee, reportedly groped a woman, then got slapped in the face. (Possibly, after a night of carousing, he mistook her for the center.) Everyone else got busy making their New Year’s party plans and welcoming back Dick Clark to his rightful place at the Times Square countdown. Let’s hope the apple drops safely, ushering in a happy New Year for all.