Call me a Grinch, but the latest craze in inflatable lawn ornaments has to be one of the most unfortunate phases in the history of suburban Christmas mania. To me, they are garish by night and tragic by day. As I leave for work these chilly mornings, our neighborhood resembles a Yuletide crime scene, with bodies strewn all over the lawns: Santas, reindeer, Frosties. One yard in particular, well known in the area for its extravagant and expanding decorations, always looks as if the elves and reindeer had a gang war the previous night. I want to stop and say a few words for the dearly departed.
Yes, I know that I am the buzzkill here. We are aware that we are extremely blessed in our neighbors, all of whom are responsible moms and dads with utterly charming children, friendly and quiet—except for the gunfire. We’re the ones who can’t even seem to get our house pressure-washed, no matter how hard we plan. The kindest thing we could do for our neighbors across the street would be to construct a huge mirror, reflecting their yard right back to them. They really do make an effort. I could say that we’re concentrating on the spiritual significance of the holiday—and we do try to do that—but it’s really a combination of poverty and laziness, so that wouldn’t be quite truthful. I do get a wreath on the door every year, and the inside of the house is decorated. No, really. I swear.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Science is always making great improvements,” and in the realm of Christmas cheer, those improvements include adding sound to your holiday display. Yes, now they play music. I remember the first time I heard it, an eerie moaning or screaming coming from outside. I listened for a few minutes. Cats, maybe? I stepped outside when it did not stop. No, it was the caroler figurines across the street. Michael just noticed it this year. He hastened into the family room, eyes wide, and whispered, “Do you hear that?” Since I’ve explained it to him, he has taken on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, crashing into the house each evening muttering and growling.
But I don’t mind the musical balloons. They’re actually adorable, in a haunted cemetery sort of way. Plus, I comfort myself that, within hours, a virulent wasting disease will ravage the neighborhood, cutting down all the puffy toys. In the meantime, I’ll throw on some Switchfoot and crank it up. That’ll cover anything.