This time each year, it happens every time I drive along the streets or walk the sidewalks of my neighborhood. I am calmly going about my day, when suddenly I turn the corner and one of THEM appears right before me.
They are appearing like mushrooms.
They are taking over.
They are Inflatables.
I feel my chest tighten and my blood pressure rise. I try to look away, but I know IT IS THERE, vacant eyes and painted smiley smile mocking me as it wavers back and forth, jiggling slightly, enjoying a silent but hearty belly-laugh at my expense.
I don’t know when my disdain for this type of decoration started, but it has gotten to the point that seeing a new Inflatable in town causes me to snort in disbelief that yet ANOTHER neighbor is willing to besmirch their lawn, their home, their very REPUTATION, in the name of lawn ornamentation.
I do believe myself to be one of the most tolerant people around. I have friends of every walk of life, many colors and cultures, and several different beliefs and orientations. I was shocked to discover how deep my feelings for Inflatable Owners ran.
The truth about my prejudice was revealed to me recently on a run with a dear friend during a visit to her Florida home. As we made our way through the palm green neighborhood with Wannabe White-Christmas Thingy-Bobs strewn across every ficus shrub in sight, I loudly shared my feelings about every electrically enhanced Frosty, Santa and Rudolph we passed.
My aversion comes not from the garish nature of the things and not from the crazy amount of electricity they command – I mean, I leave MY sparkly white tree lights on all day long, so I am totally guilty of a big fat carbon footprint each December.
No, the distress for me is when they are NOT inflated. They just lie there in a huge dazzling bulge of color, splayed out with their empty eyes – sometimes staring straight up, sometimes smushed face down into the snow or grass or dirt they inhabit. The only thing I can think of when I see this dismal display is used clown condoms tossed along the side of the street.
I know. I know, you hate me now, but COME ON! LOOOOOOK at them!!!
As my friend Christine Cashen says, “The whole scene is entirely deflating.”
It happened on that Florida run between my rants… well, really it happened after I had started trying to keep up with her pace and could no longer utter words as I gasped for breath. My friend was silent for a while then, in what I assumed was the spirit of friendly debate, asked, “So… would you think any less of ME if you knew I had an Inflatable in my attic?”
I panted out a laugh. She can always make me laugh. And kept slogging along.
The icy cold splash of “I’m not kidding” washed over me, and I stopped dead in my tracks.
“YOU have an Inflatable in your attic?!?”
“I have two.”
The important things that happened next: 1) Surprisingly, nothing at all changed about the way I feel about her, and 2) I laughed so hard and so long that my abs hurt – making the remainder of the run superfluous, and 3) The whole idea that I was getting worked up over Yard-Bling, took on a flavor of fun and I was able to let it go… mostly. I have a real and actual friend who is an Inflatable Owner!
I know I am extreme in my anti-inflationism. And I do believe when you are so Anti-Something… well then, that Something will crawl up and snug into your lap and nudge you until you can get right with it.
What is the Anti in YOUR lap right now?
My awakening could not have come too soon. This morning, my brand new next-door neighbors pulled up to the curb with a car full of Christmas cheer and a fresh cut tree strapped to the roof. I watched them work all day to deck, and light, and swag the front of their new home. And then I took a deep breath and walked outside to personally welcome the newest residents they had brought to our street – Inflatable Frosty, Inflatable Santa, and Three Lighted Reindeer… with moving heads.
I have learned a lot and enjoyed this season more by working to let go of my Inflation Discrimination. Who knows, maybe next year, I just might become a card-carrying member of the Lawn Ornament Holiday Brigade.
Yeah… probably not.