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Pick of the Day: Is that Santa slumped on your lawn?


An inflatable Santa Claus is seen toppled over and covered in snow in front of a home in Havertown, Pa., on Dec. 19. Photo by Jacqueline Larma/AP

Good stories are ones that slip into your thoughts months or even years after you’ve read them, fished to the surface by a familiar sight or conversation topic. This happened to me the other day as I drove through a neighborhood in San Antonio, my hometown, and saw this: An inflatable Santa half out of air, bobbing weakly under an afternoon sun. The inflatable snowman next to him was in even worse shape, resembling a white nylon puddle on the lawn.

My thoughts immediately went to this story that my former colleague Paul Vitello, a reporter at the New York Times, wrote a few years ago when these blow-up decorations started sprouting en masse on suburban lawns.

He writes: Whatever else Christmas in America means — the birth of Jesus, holly wreaths, the Chipmunks, cultural tension — it now also includes these gargantuan, inflatable outdoor decorations, called "Airblowns" by their chief manufacturer.

After the story ran, I sent Paul an email – something I don't often do when it comes to fellow reporters – telling him how much I enjoyed the article. We had all seen these lawn monstrosities (people tend to either love them or hate them; I lean toward the latter) but he managed to eloquently capture a holiday trend that had drawn a line between decorative tastes.

By Theresa Vargas  | December 28, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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