Oh, who can stop the madness of ever-expanding Xmas decorations?

December 08, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

I kept my feelings to myself when the trend in outdoor home Christmas decorations took a sudden alarming turn away from wreaths and lights and twinkling sleighs and toward giant inflatable characters.

Not a word appeared here when giant inflatable Santas and giant inflatable Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeers and giant inflatable Grinches Who Stole Christmas began springing up in front yards everywhere, glowing in the dark, powered by small unseen fans blowing compressed air into the heavy-duty vinyl fabric.

Even when the giant inflatable Mickey Mouse and the giant inflatable Winnie the Pooh and the giant inflatable Bambi appeared - what did any of these have to do with Christmas? - I was still not moved to sit down at the computer and run my fat little fingers over the keyboard in indignation.

My feeling was this: If you want the front of your house to look like showtime at the local Chuck E. Cheese, that's your business.

Look, I'm sure there are plenty of people who pass my house and stare at the pathetic lights-around-the-bushes tableau and the extension cords snaking wildly in every direction and think: yawn.

I'm sure they think: Hey, get an imagination, OK? For God's sake, it's almost 2006. There are Amish barns decorated more wildly than your house.

That's OK. I can handle that kind of criticism.

I have an inner strength you can't see, but it's there, all right.

Still, as the years went by and I searched for new ways to decorate during the holidays, I was never tempted to join the giant inflatable characters movement.

In fact, the giant inflatable Santas and Rudolphs and Grinches creeped me out, especially when I passed them in the morning, silent and deflated, their little power units shut down, their shrunken, defeated heads plunked face-down on the ground, like a drunk passed out on a bar.

But now there's a hot new outdoor Christmas decoration so disturbing it can no longer be ignored in this space, one that threatens to make the giant inflatable Santas and Rudolphs and Grinches look quaint by comparison.

I speak here, of course, of the giant inflatable snow globe.

Have you seen these things yet?

If you haven't, imagine a mutated, Godzilla-sized version of the little desktop snow globes we used to shake as kids.

(Well, I never did. I didn't like snow globes then, and I don't like 'em now.

(As a kid, I was always running around with a Daisy air rifle, one step from shooting someone's eye out.)

These inflatable globes light up at night and have built-in fans that continuously blow "snow" around whatever Christmas-y scene is re-created inside: your smiling and waving Santa, your smiling and waving trio of carrot-nosed snowmen, your smiling and waving Mickey and Minnie at the North Pole, etc.

But the ever-smiling and waving characters - they look like they're all running for office - are only part of what makes these things so annoying.

What really makes them annoying is their sheer size.

Because these giant inflatable snow globes are giant.

Most are anywhere between 6 feet and 8 feet tall. And they're wider than John Goodman after a month of holiday buffets.

Which begs the question: When it comes to Christmas decorations, when does big become too big?

Do we want them so big they block out the sun and the moon?

Do we want them so big we have to put traffic cones around them?

I saw an inflatable snow globe lit up in front of a house the other night, and from across the street it looked like Jupiter.

The thing was so big it blocked part of the sidewalk.

Now there's the sort of thing that should probably be covered by a neighborhood's covenants and restrictions, right? ("Holiday decorations shall not be so mammoth they impede pedestrian traffic.")

Anyway, the point is, when do we stop trying to out-do each other with these ever-bigger and more elaborate decorations?

When do we stop the insanity?

What's next, Christmas hot air balloons parked on lawns and lifting off every night?

Shaquille O'Neal-sized animatronic Disney characters caroling around the clock? A Jumbotron screen flashing 30-foot-high images of Santa and his reindeer landing on the roof of a house?

When does it all become too much?

Oh, something tells me the whole lights-around-the-bushes thing and the extension cords snaking wildly in each direction will come back in vogue someday.

People will come to their senses again.

You just don't know when.


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