Your Fugly Christmas Decorations Offend Me

The MOST wonderful time of the year!

It’s officially started. This weekend, I saw our Bucks Co. neighbors hanging swags of garland over their garage, a big wreath in the middle. Another up the street strung pretty white lights on the boxwoods lining the entranceway. Still another planted candles in each window, with an enormous twinkling tree in the living room’s bay window.

And then … then there were the houses in the next cul-de-sac. Giant clashing colored lights are roped around a bare tree, winking on and off like a weird disco ball. Next to the tree is a rather odd grouping of plastic figures: Santa, Mrs. Claus and four elves looking over a nativity scene. (Perhaps the Three Wise Men didn’t bring enough frankincense?) But the real offender is three streets down, where a front yard has been completely taken over by hulking inflatable lawn ornaments nearly bigger than the house itself: a caroling snowman, Rudolph, a teddy bear wearing a Santa hat, a penguin perched atop an igloo. It’s the 2011 version of Clark Griswold’s house.

Before you brand me a grinch, know that I’m all for holiday cheer and festive decorations. But it seems we’re taking it just a tad too far. Keeping up with the Joneses—bigger houses, better cars—now means it’s not enough to hang a wreath on the front door, or string a few lights here and there. No, you’re not really excited about the holidays unless you shell out $350 for an eight-foot-tall inflatable snow globe that plays music.

The house next to this inflatable Christmas wonderland is decorated, too, with tiny lights on the bushes and wreaths on each window. But it pales in comparison to the funhouse next door; in fact, it actually pales in a literal sense, too: The shadows of these blow-up monstrosities cast a darkness over the next door yard, as if to say, “We like Christmas more than you.”

What’s it going to be next year, the big new thing? How can we possibly top these larger-than-life inflatable beacons of holiday cheer, and the full-on animated light shows that average Joes are proudly erecting across the lawns of America (like this one)? Are we going to start stationing real reindeer on our roofs? Maybe build a life-size manger and pay actors to sit in it for a month?

So, a word to my inflatable-loving friends and my plastic-figurine-obsessed neighbors: I like Christmas just as much as you. I just prefer to limit my cheer to a wreath, some lights, and a tree. And if you want to spend the money and time filling your yard with giant inflatable reindeer, more power to you. Just as long as you don’t live next door to me.