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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Southern Tier Comedy Shop

Tacky Holiday Yard Displays Leave Me Deflated


Illustrated by Filomena Jack


I recently drove by a home on Elmira’s Southside and saw a front yard that was overflowing with chaotically packed Halloween bats, witches, ghouls, tombstones and other scary embellishments that looked like the contents of a Halloween-themed store had been dumped on the lawn.


Get used to it.


Halloween is the beginning of the go-bat-sh*t-wild holiday decorations season. For the next several months front lawns will be filled with inflatable characters, noisy blower motors, moving ornaments, flashing and swirling lights, water fountains, mirror spheres, hanging baskets, chimes and recordings of seasonal noises from “boo” and “gobble-gobble” to “Noel,” and “Ho, ho, ho.’”


It used to be that yard decorations only appeared at Christmas. Now, every holiday has themed lawn ornaments, from Valentine’s Day and Easter to St. Patty’s Day and Independence Day.


I’m waiting for the Presidents Day mattress sales to encourage people to decorate their yards with brightly-lit inflatable king-size memory foam beds.

I’m not opposed to outdoor decorations. They remind me of my youth when my cronies and I would pilfer outdoor Christmas light bulbs ... whoops, wrong memory. I mean, I recall Dad and Mom loading us eight kids into the station wagon to drive around town to look at Christmas decorations.


Back then it was just door wreaths and colored light bulbs on pine trees.


Not anymore.


A wholesale change occurred in the 2000s when inflatables replaced plastic blow-molded decorations. Inflatables look good when inflated, but when deflated they collapse and the front lawns look like they’re peppered with giant and colorful condoms. Merry Christmas.


Most inflatables cost $40-$50, but you can pay triple digits for some, like the 15-foot inflatable Rudolph reindeer with a blinking red nose, for $399.95. For that price, Rudolph should shovel the sidewalk, scrape ice from the car windows and it better not leave any inflatable poop on the lawn.


I often see run-down homes with plastic bags for windows and sagging and about-to-collapse porches that have hundreds of dollars in gaudy inflatables in the front yards.


Here’s a handy holiday hack: Instead of buying a $94.99 inflatable Santa driving a monster truck with flames painted on the side, use the money to fix the hole in the roof, buy some curtains and finish putting up the aluminum siding.


Giant inflatables, lit with hot lights, must be held down with guy wires, so a strong wind doesn’t send them skyward where they could burst into flames and rain down on neighbors, in a yuletide Hindenburg disaster.


“Ohhhh, the holiday humanity!”

Illustration by Filomena Jack


Another popular decorative motif has homeowners installing powerful spotlights that shine on their homes. It looks good from the outside, but inside, where the intense bright light rays are exploding through the windows, it must feel like living on a supernova.


Eventually, neighborhood homeowners associations will be forced to do something about the bright lights that interrupt neighbors’ sleep. Then we will see scenes like this:


President of the homeowners association talking on a bullhorn from the front yard: “We have the house surrounded. Put down your cups of egg nog, turn off the spotlights and come out with your hands up. We won’t harm you. We want to get you the medical help you need to stop you from turning your home into an exploding star every year.”


Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. It’s nice to know that you can honor that sacred event with a 5-foot-tall and 6-foot-wide inflatable Nativity display of Joseph, Mary, a lamb, a donkey and a baby Jesus that radiates a pulsating glow from a 40-watt light bulb in his blessed little belly. Only $79.95.


When I saw that display online, it filled me with such joy that I sang out “Hark! The Inflatable Angels Sing!” and “What Child is This With a 50-foot Extension Cord?”


You may ask, “How much is too much when it comes to decorating my yard?”


To help guide you, I offer this list of five signs that you suffer from ODS (Overinflated Decoration Syndrome).

  1. Your electric bill is more than your mortgage.

  2. Your front yard looks like the start of a hot-air balloon festival.

  3. The airport asks you to turn off the decoration lights because they are drowning out the runway lights and distracting pilots.

  4. Delivery people and several neighborhood dogs and cats are entangled in the web of electric extension cords in your yard.

  5. People are living in the inflatable castle.

And remember, folks, when the holiday season is over, please take down those decorations. We don’t want to see a lit 6-foot-tall snow globe swirling with foam flakes on July 4th.


PS: There is a holiday decoration that I love. It’s the woman’s leg lamp from the movie, “A Christmas Story.”


As the movie’s dad says: “It’s beautiful! It’s exquisite! It’s ... indescribable!”

About this feature

Get more Jim Pfiffer humor on his Facebook page, his blog, FullOfWit, and his podcast The Viewsroom on Zoom with Pfif & AWAC.


To contact and learn more about Filomena Jack and to see her artwork go to www.FilomenaJackStudio.com.

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