The turkey has been digested, the pumpkins put away, and virtually overnight neighborhood yards are coming to life with a veritable cornucopia of Christmas magic. That is, if your idea of magic is multi-colored light shows, mechanical deer and inflatable snowmen.
I go big with holiday decorations inside my home. But outside, we are relative light-weights. A few lights on trees, bushes, the fence in the backyard, and we call it jolly. Add in the traditional colonial candles in the windows and we are pretty darn proud of ourselves.
In stark contrast to our home, is a group of three homes down the road from us. Reminiscent of the Griswold’s, or Danny DeVito’s spectacular display in Deck the Halls, each year these folks go all out in a joint venture. Lights, displays, things up on the roof, even a holographic Santa that appears in the window – all set to music. In a frenzied sort of way, it is impressive. And yet I can’t help but think like a typical real woman and wonder a.) How they find the time to do it, b.) Where the heck they store it all during the rest of the year, c.) What family member started it all with “I’ve got an idea….” and d.) How gigantic is their electric bill?
Over the weekend I had a conversation with a BFF about the amount of Christmas “stuff” we have, and how I really need to clean it out. The storage of our decorations takes up almost half of my basement space. I know darn well there are items in those crates that I never use or put out on display, but I’ve kept them simply for nostalgic reasons. The popsical-art ornaments made by my son in kindergarten, the handmade wreath that is disintegrating, the Rudolph plush toys, and the now cloudy snow globes –yes, they are all still sitting in boxes taking up space. And this year, like every other, I vow to get rid of them after the holiday season is complete. Unclutter and simplify. One of these years, I’ll actually listen to myself. Yet when I see some of these complex lighting displays and yard art, I realize my storage issues could be far worse. And certainly so could my taste in décor.
I do love meandering neighborhoods to see what people have erected to signify holiday cheer, and to find out the hot new things of the season. This year apparently projecting sparkly dots all over the front of one’s house is a thing. Looks a bit like festive measles. More popular than ever are the blow-up characters. I’m not an inflatable lawn ornament kinda gal. Not that I have anything against the big puffy snowmen, reindeer, Peanuts characters and penguins that glow and weave in the wind at night. Some folks love them. I find them humorous during daylight hours as they lay deflated and crumpled in holiday heaps, like giant melted Frosty’s.
For the most part, the décor is fun and cute, sometimes even with a nod to the traditional spiritual meaning of the season. And yet, each year, there seems to be one or two sightings that just make me wonder what they were thinking. Today on my lunch time walk, I was scoping out the plethora of items in the yard of a house on a street corner. Lots of deflated lumps of nylon, groups of snowman-faced orbs on sticks, prancing reindeer, a sleigh, a couple of toy soldiers, strings of big retro-style lights in the trees. Then I saw it. In the back, behind the reindeer. I had to back up to look again. Was that really santa with his pants down?
For the rest of the day I pondered where one would purchase such a thing, but even more to the point, why would someone put that in their yard? What was it supposed to symbolize? Did Santa’s pants fall off when he came out of the chimney? Was Santa relieving himself after drinking too much nog? Even worse, was Santa becoming a flasher? What is the story there? Did the household’s Dad reach the breaking point of too much cuteness? Did he sneak out at night to install it after his wife was asleep to see if she’d notice? Did someone lose a bet? Oh, so many questions, all to go unanswered. Perhaps it’s not what I thought I saw…. although conveniently I had my smartphone camera with me, so you be the judge.
The key take away here is that we each have our own taste in holiday décor. We each show our spirit in different ways. What may be slightly distasteful to others could be the coolest thing ever to someone else. But no matter what, now more than ever, we all need avenues for healthy self-expression, ways to bring joy into our lives, and make each other smile and feel good, even if it is just for a moment as we pass by a giant waving Mickey Mouse, a handcrafted Holy Family, a set of blinding LED Spotlights, or even a scantily-clad Santa. Ho ho ho.