In the suburbs, our grocery stores have garden centers, and electronics sections that rival Costco. What else would we do with all this land? Green space? Bah. We got to have our refrigerators, we got to have our color TV’s (apologies to Dire Straits).
One early Saturday morning – really, really early, because I had soccer games to get to – I wandered past the garden center on my way to buy soccer team snacks. Since it was a weekend morning, and the kids were home with Dad rather than at my side begging for sugar cereal, I decided to stop and smell the begonias.
In mid-sniff, they caught my eye. Yard eggs.
The yard eggs were large and metal. They were as tall as my four-year-old, as wide as three of him, and on metal stakes, ready to be jammed into my mulch for the Easter season. They were ugly, the yard eggs. I assumed they were formed in a high school metal shop, and painted with discount bin colors.
For a full three minutes I debated buying the ugly yard eggs. That was the moment I realized the suburbs are eating my brain.
There is nothing more suburban than yard stuff. I’m not talking about yard art, like my beloved flying pig (I love her so much that she now lives inside, where she’s house art). I’m not talking about a discreetly placed gnome or two. No, I’m talking about yard eggs, seasonal flags ordered from Ballard Designs, and – the yard stuff to beat all other yard stuff – inflatables.
We just had Christmas in the ‘burbs. You probably had Christmas in the cities and rural areas, too, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t get out much. During the Christmas season you can’t walk half a block in the suburbs without meeting something inflatable. Sometimes it’s Santa, flying a rocket (why not? Sleighs are so… done), often it’s a snowman (corncob pipe, button nose, etc., etc.), occasionally it’s the nativity (wrong, wrong, wrong – we do not inflate the Baby Jesus).
My favorites this year were toddler-sized versions of Darth Vader and Yoda, wearing Santa hats, wielding light sabers, and standing together. My seven-year-old believes they put aside their differences for the season; otherwise, Darth and Yoda would never share a yard. A true Christmas miracle, I tell you.
Last Valentine’s Day I saw an inflatable Cupid. Hand to heaven. I’ve seen Easter bunnies bobbing in the spring winds, and giant jack-o-lanterns coupled with terrifying black cats (the eyes glow; it’s creepy). There was a Tom Turkey two streets over this year, until he popped when a strong wind blew a branch right into his juicy breast meat.
We’ve been in the suburbs almost seven years now. Thus far, I’ve avoided inflatables. I’m impervious to the begging. But Mooooommm, everyone has one! Exactly. They all have one, and we don’t need to take away from what they’re doing. Look out your windows, kids, enjoy the view.
I have, however, acquired a rattan reindeer. Truthfully, I had a total of three rattan reindeer. Two of them have passed on, the elements too much for them. One literally lost his head last Christmas, and as I carried deer parts to the trash, I said, “I understand, brother. The holidays are rough on us all.”
This year I had just one, tiny reindeer, and a solar-powered, light-up Santa orb. He was cute, sitting on his stake, plunked into a pot of red cyclamen flowers. Solar Santa replaced a googly-eyed jack-o-lantern in the mums. We don’t exactly have Fall in central Texas, but that doesn’t mean we don’t decorate for it, sister. Mum’s the word, and the potted plant of choice, from October through November.
While yard stuff alone may be enough for Halloween, Easter, and the Fourth of July, at Christmastime you also need lights. And those lights better be lit at the appropriate time. I’ll explain.
1. Your Christmas lights can be applied to the house whenever Stu the Light Guy can get there. Stu charges less in September than in November.
2. If you catch Stu early and the lights are strung on your house before Halloween, that’s fantastic. Do not turn them on yet. If you like getting the side-eye at school pick-up, go ahead and light ‘em, but I’m trying to help you.
3. Most years, when Thanksgiving falls a full month or more before Christmas, your lights must turn on no earlier than the day before Thanksgiving, no later than Thanksgiving night.
3a. In years when Thanksgiving creeps closer to Christmas, it’s acceptable, but not preferable, to turn on your lights a week or so before Thanksgiving. Pre-turkey day lights are a little weird, but you probably won’t be on the receiving end of whispers at the next school function.
A tip: Invest in a timer, and ask Stu to set it so your house is glowing from dusk until at least 11 p.m.; midnight is better.
I should note that we have a one-story home – a shanty by suburban standards – so my handy husband hangs our lights and installs the timer. If, however, we get a “house with stairs like everyoooone else” (sorry, kids), I’m calling Stu in August. Bet on it.
Yes, fine. I admit it: I am drinking the suburban Kool-Aid, and it tastes a lot like pinot grigio. I drink it at those damn parties where you’re expected to buy a bag or bracelet or pizza cutter. First of all, that is the best pizza cutter I’ve ever owned. Secondly, someone should really start a Yard Stuff House Party company. We would go nuts for that out here in the ‘burbs.
(Go ahead and put me down for the inflatable Christmas ornaments I’ve had my eye on ever since Judy over on Shenandoah Lane got some.)
note: Missy writes the blog Wonder, Friend. You can read her latest blog post HERE.