Every neighborhood has one family that goes beyond the call of duty with their Christmas decorations. If you’re lucky, yours has several.
One of the benefits of my McMansion-stuffed, gaudy-as-fuck hometown is how overboard some folks go on their Christmas displays.
The Griswold house in Christmas Vacation is only a slight exaggeration of what I’ve seen here in real life. If the image of holiday lights blitzing through enough electricity to power 60,000 Hybrids gets your noodle going, this is great place to visit. We also host several stars of the hit reality series, Mafia Wives.
The really intense houses can attract big crowds at night, and shown above is one of them. Actually, this house is way less of a production than some of the others, but for years now, it’s been a sentimental favorite. What it lacks in electricity is more than made up for in insanity.
At night, it’s quite a sight. The house has an enormous, gated front lawn, filled from one corner to another with lights and animatronics, from the ground to the treetops, and even hanging in the air by wires. Factor in the music, the crowd and the 7’ dancing Snow White statues, and it’s a real party.
The only reason I know that drinking hot cocoa from a thermos is the greatest thing ever is because it’s a sin to go here and not do that.
Course, the darkness of night doesn’t do all of the little touches justice. I’ve been visiting this merry mecca for ages, but only at night. Even then, whenever I was able to pry my eyes from the beckoning twinkles of the ten million lights, I noticed that there were other, stranger forces at play.
Well, “strange” might be overstating it. “Strange” has a negative connotation, and this house doesn’t deserve that. It’s a wonderful place that saved more than one of my Christmas seasons. Let’s settle on “unique,” and when I get to the part where Snoopy and three penguins oversee the birth of Christ, you can decide if it fits.
I wanted to know what I’d been missing. Today, I went there while it was still daylight. Turned out, I’d been missing a lot.
I could’ve spent hours photographing their displays, but there are only so many photos you can take of a stranger’s home before someone calls the cops. We’ll have to settle for the highlights, but I think they’re pretty substantial highlights.
I’ll divide the insanity into three sections: Nativity, Plush Palace and Super Train. Let’s do it in that order. It’s alphabetical.
In daylight, the gates shield nearly all of the decorations, and to the untrained eye, this might not seem like such a special place. Thankfully, off to the side, a collection of roughly three dozen light-up lawn figurines helps to clue you in.
What started as a simple nativity scene grew into the most epic Christmas party imaginable, with Joseph and Mary hobnobbing with the likes of Santa Claus, a Care Bear and another bear who isn’t a Care Bear.
And a snowman.
And a snowwoman.
And penguins! And Snoopy! By God, even Winnie the Pooh is there! If we could revise the birth of Christ to tell the story this way, every kid in America would be clutching crosses until they died.
But blasphemy is not my aim. In fact, forget the religious connotations altogether. Christmas isn’t about religion. It’s about fun things, and just you try to name something more fun than the Three Wise Men meeting the penguin versions of themselves.
Actually, aside from the penguins and Snoopy, there’s a respectable distance between the nativity players and everyone else. All of the figures are positioned to look at the empty spot where Plastic Jesus will be on Christmas Day, but it isn’t like Nutcracker Boy or Snowman #7 are close enough to coach Mary.
Gotta say, though…that Snoopy is awfully close. I guess it’s easier to get away with when your eyes are squinted and nobody thinks you’re looking. My issue is this: Snoopy is kind of a ham, and this really isn’t his moment.
My favorite characters in this very special Christmas story are the snowmen. Each is so twisted in its own way. None of them are plain snowmen. No two are remotely alike. It’s like a snowmen UN meeting, because people from other countries belong to totally different species. Upon further consideration, this paragraph about the snowmen is probably unneeded.
The real reason I’m dissecting a stranger’s Christmas decorations is shown above. It’s that amazing little hotspot called “Plush Palace.”
Well, I call it that, anyway. I was torn between “Plush Palace” and “Stuffing Central.” Stuffing Central sounds lame, and typing it a bunch of times would only make me hungry.
Here, over a hundred dolls are loosely protected by a gingerbread roof.
Through the years, they’ve been rained on, snowed on, and in certain cases, apparently set on fire. No matter how ratty they get, they still come out, year after year, admirable in their defiance.
Those little photos don’t tell the whole story, so here’s a super huge one.
Keep in mind, that’s only the front!
What you’ll notice immediately is that the dolls, by and large, have positively nothing to do with Christmas. My best guess is that this is some mutant version of Noah’s Ark. But that doesn’t explain why there are three Tasmanian Devils and only one Miss Piggy. Plus, this clearly isn’t an ark. My best guess was awful.
It’s a cavalcade of every children’s icon in history, which is an enormous exaggeration, but one that you’re going to have to forgive, because the display includes a fucking Fob from Teddy Ruxpin. If it has that, it’s tough to believe that anyone could be missing.
I lost myself in the sea of colorful faces, “ooohing” at who I recognized and making no noises at those I didn’t.
These are, no doubt, the most wonderful Christmas decorations I’ll see this year. What could top this? Would anyone else let a thousand soaking plushies stink up their front lawn, all for the sake of my holiday cheer?
This place needs a donation jar. You can’t put a headless Paddington Bear on your front lawn and not be paid for it.
Two of the dolls made a particularly strong impression:
I loved this angry Christmas tree guy. I bet he’s angry because they put him next to Blue. Blue never shuts up. I can just imagine the conversations.
Blue: Hey! Did you see that? A car just went by.
Tree: It’s a busy road. A lot of cars go by.
Blue: “Car.” Can you spell that, Mr. Tree?
Tree: I think I’m gonna go sit next to that Raggedy Ann with all the maggots coming outta her neck.
I also dig the tree’s shoes. Trees that angry shouldn’t wear such cute shoes. He can frown all he wants. I’m still going to hug and smoosh him.
This Kermit doll was my second favorite. It’s so old and tattered that he’s practically become Zombie Kermit. When the mind drifts to Zombie Kermit, the best Google Image Search ever is just a few clicks away.
Thank you, dirty Kermit doll. I finally understand deviantART.
Last up is the “Super Train,” which, in comparison to everything else, really isn’t so super. It is, however, a train under attack by Shamu, and that is pretty super.
That is Shamu, right? Or Baby Shamu? I’m cool with either, so long as it’s in the Shamu family.
A generic killer whale simply would not do. We’re on the cusp of actualizing the greatest horror movie ever, but we’ll need name value if anyone’s going to fund it.
Like there’s a person alive who wouldn’t eat a horse ball for opening night tickets to Shamu Attacks Train.
The caboose is co-managed by Pikachu and a shark. The shark looks even more ticked off than that tree did. It’s probably because Shamu ruined his chances of being the biggest fish on the train.
“But shark,” I say. “Whales are not fish.”
Pikachu adds: “Pikachu.”
This could turn into a pretty great subplot. Shamu Attacks Train is going to be huge. We’ll have our own Happy Meal and everything.
In closing, anytime you can call being accosted by Big Bird a tribute to Christmas is something-something.
I don’t know who lives in this house, but I do know that they will be enjoying a basket of Royal Riviera pears by mid Saturday.
In the note, I begged them to never change.