I love Chicago. I do consider it to be one of the greatest cities in the world. From the lakeshore, to shopping on Michigan Ave., to fine dining, nightlife of every kind, theater and live music galore, it is hard to make the argument that Chicago is not a world class city. As I may have mentioned, I went home for Thanksgiving this year, and while I was there realized another reason why I truly love living in the city.
Christmas is marked clear as day on most calendars on Dec. 25. But even calendar makers recognize this holiday is too big for just one day, feeling the need to denote Dec. 24 as Christmas Eve. Now if we were to go by most traditional calendars, it would appear Christmas is celebrated on those two days, but as anyone with functioning eyes, or ears or a nose knows, Christmas beings invading all of our senses before Thanksgiving. From smelly store displays to radio stations that play Christmas music non-stop beginning the second week in November, it is impossible to escape this holiday. It is because of this that usually by the time December hits, I don’t feel like celebrating Christmas all that much.
However, there has been one thing that irks my Christmas spirit more than anything else in recent years. It inspires in me an intense hatred and horror to which I shudder to think about even now. And if anything, it is a trend that has only increased over the past few years. I am talking about the rise of the inflatable lawn ornament.
I ask you, when will the madness stop?
I refer to inflatable lawn ornaments as the lazy man’s Christmas decoration. It takes no effort or thought or design to go to Wal-Mart, purchase an eight-foot tall inflatable Santa Claus for $29.95, blow it up and place it strategically front and center in your yard. There is a word for this kind of Christmas decorating - tacky. I am sure the inflatable lawn ornament is marketed to the same people who buy hundreds of yards of Christmas lights and string them on anything that can withstand the force of gravity. However, these people have all gotten lazy and now are resorting to buying inflatable lawn ornaments by the army.
I remember a few years ago, while I was home for the holidays, passing an inflatable lawn ornament display which has yet to be topped in my eyes. There was a small, white house, not nestled far off the road on a street a short drive from my parents’ house. This house had a fenced-in front yard, which I guess was no larger than 10 feet by 12 feet. In that cramped space were four inflatable lawn ornaments - a Santa, reindeer, snowman and Christmas tree - all over 7 feet tall. As I passed it in disgusted horror, all I could think was, “How do they get in and out of their front door?”
I ask you, what happened to the good old days? Growing up, the start of Christmas was signaled when my mom would drag up our strand of lights from the basement. She would plug them in to check for loose bulbs, only to moments later call my dad to come check out why this or that darn strand was not working. Then without fail, the next day she or my dad, or sometimes both, would put on their hats and gloves, grab the ladder and brave the cold to hang lights outlining the roof of our one-story ranch house. They would come in cursing the cold most years, but later that night when we turned the lights on over the darkness of our street, our house would be baked in the soft glow of little white lights. That’s when I felt Christmas had officially begun. It saddens me to think there are children growing up today who in 20 years will associate the start of Christmas with the sound of mom or dad firing up the air compressor.
I think word is starting to spread, though, about the ridiculousness of these “decorations.” Smart, rational people realize their absurdity. And those who don’t really should take note because they don’t know what they may be missing out on. Case and point: A good friend of mine recently went to check out a daycare for her daughter. Much to her horror, as she drove up to the home which was to house her child during working hours she was assaulted with a barrage of inflatable (and other) lawn ornaments. She went in the home, because she is a polite person, but the interview did not last much longer than 10 minutes. This is why she is a good friend of mine.
As I said, I was in Michigan for Thanksgiving. My parents live in suburbia, also known as “The Land of the Inflatable Lawn Ornament.” Being there, it was hard to ignore the inflatables. Just driving in and out of my parents’ subdivision, I had to pass two inflatable turkeys, which I am almost certain were replaced by giant snowmen and reindeer on Nov. 24. And I was disturbed to note that the latest inflatable design to hit the market is a snow globe with a functioning carousel housed inside. There were at least a half dozen within a one-mile radius of my parents’ house.
But as I was driving around, I learned another reason why I love living in Chicago and not suburbia. In Chicago, most people live in apartments. You know what most apartments don’t have? Lawns. You know what you can’t buy if you don’t have a lawn? Inflatable lawn ornaments. Sigh…. So simple, yet so beautiful. As I have said before, I love Chicago.
And to any of you reading this that currently have inflatable lawn ornaments displayed in your front yard, I make no apologies. You should not own them. Do yourself a favor and deflate your “Christmas decorations” right now.