Every year when Christmas decorations come out of their dusty bins and spread good tidings to all, I think about my old neighbor’s Christmas decorations. First, you have to know that this was a neighbor that had everything. They had fancy cars, endless parties, and they even had a pitching machine in their back yard. Christmas was their time to really shine. Blinding light displays, huge wreaths and, most of all the inflatable display to end all inflatable displays decked every inch of their lawn.
I’m not much for the inflatable variety of yuletide flair. I think it’s the inevitable deflating part that gets me. By night Santa’s a jolly stalwart Christmas icon, by day he’s a sad pool of primary-colored post-puffed glory. As I wander past puddles of Santas, elves, and snowmen I can’t help but think one could come to the conclusion that sunlight kills Christmas.
My neighbor’s inflatables were not susceptible to sunlight deflation. Just like the lights, they were never turned off. Taking a bold stance against tradition and flying reindeer transportation, the largest inflatable was a landing strip for Santa in a biplane. It was huge. It took up half the lawn and actual lights lined the nylon runway that rippled in the wind.
The one that I can’t get out of my head, though was the Ferris wheel, and it wasn’t just a mock carnival ride. No, this thing turned. As remarkable as that is, it’s not the part that’s burned in my memory. The Ferris wheel had three seats each occupied by a character associated with Christmas: Santa, a penguin with a Santa hat, and Baby Jesus. An eclectic mix for sure.
Baby Jesus really stuck with me. First, it’s hard to picture our Lord and Savior at an amusement park, let alone riding a Ferris Wheel. Any baby really, doesn’t belong on a Ferris Wheel, but that’s not the weirdest part. In order for everyone to know that this wasn’t just any kid enjoying Christmas, this was Jesus with a capital “J” the Ferris Wheel designer put the iconic Jesus beard on the baby.
I have so many questions. Was there a big discussion about leaving Christ out of Christmas and it was resolved by Baby Jesus on a Ferris Wheel? Did anyone balk at the idea of a swaddled babe riding alone without a proper restraint system? Was there a meeting where the beard was discussed? Did the Chinese workers making this fine yard decoration wonder if American children are plagued by severe hormonal abnormalities? Mostly, I question my neighbor. A family that deprived themselves of nothing decided this mechanical wheel is what Christmas means?