Penny is an artist who uses her creative side and imagination to express herself. She’s now using this opportunity with ASDNext to not only do that through art, but also blogging. For much of her life, she felt like the “quirky sidekick” stereotype in a movie, always doing what others expected of her. When she was diagnosed with autism later in life, that all began to change. This news was life changing and she knew it was time to rewrite her story. She’s no longer on the sidelines of this so-called movie that is her life, she’s the director, leading-lady, or whatever other part she needs to play to figure out who she REALLY is! Every small step toward authenticity is now a victory for her in this new stage of life.View all posts
How I Stopped Being a Grinch and Started Decorating for Christmas
Christmas decorations are so magical and charming. Gazing at houses fully decked out and bedazzled is such a treat. I enjoy decorations very much, but when putting them in my space, my brain immediately equates it to a chore. Decorating requires hoarding tons of clutter, unpacking, and cleaning, only to pack it all up in another couple of weeks. My home has one bin of Christmas decorations in the garage and one bin of general seasonal decorations. Every year, my boyfriend Dave, my dog Luna, and I hunt and cut down a Christmas tree to put up in the house. Every year, we take it home, stick it in the tree stand, decorate it, clean up any mess, and pack away the bins that same day. I am an efficient decorator.
We do not own Thanksgiving decorations. The only decorative items I pull out for Thanksgiving are themed paper plates and napkins I purchase a week or two before dinner. My boyfriend, Dave, teases me about not decorating enough, saying it’s why people don’t come over. If guests arrive, they notice our lack of decorations and assume we host as poorly as we decorate. The pressure got to me this year. On Thanksgiving Eve, I stuck a 39-cent wooden hanging sign that proclaimed, “Thankful. Grateful. Blessed,” into my cart at the grocery store.
When we got home, after unpacking all the other purchases, I snuck out the front door to hang up my wooden sign. When I stepped back into the house, Dave confronted me about my absence. He asked if a package was out there. No, I assured him. I was just outside, hard at work putting up the Thanksgiving decorations. I proudly boasted about my ability to let loose with the one decorative item he said I would NEVER buy. It was silly, and we both had a good laugh. The joy that 39-cent decoration brought to our home made my tiny Grinch heart grow three sizes.
Scrolling through Amazon deals one night, I spied the most mesmerizing item, a 5ft inflatable polar bear sitting in front of a wrapped present. The sale price was only $15. My finger hovered over the “Add to Cart” button. This would be the first Christmas inflatable I have ever owned. The big bear was so cute though! I needed a reality check. I consulted Dave on whether the polar bear was the most charming, heart-stopping adorable Christmas decoration in the world. He did nothing but encourage me to buy it. It looks like we were adopting a polar bear!
I was fully prepared to take the plunge, only to see the price return to $39. If I was going to spend that much money, what I bought had to be unique from anything else in the neighborhood. Postponing the decision further, I spent all my time searching until I found the best one. Who was I at this point? With so many options, it took me about two weeks to finally choose a pair of adorable squirrels sitting atop a giant peanut wrapped in a big red bow. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t overcomplicate and delay this minor decision.
The package was delivered and surprisingly small, with a height of no more than 6 inches. Fully inflated, the squirrels boasted a grand height of 4.5 feet. It was hard to believe. Inside the box was a drawstring tote with the compressed inflatable. There were a few other items in the tote: a small set of instructions, 1 plug, several small lengths of cording, and a handful of metal stakes. The squirrels needed a clean lawn to rest on as they would draw much attention to our yard. I didn’t want to let them free until I had raked all the leaves around the area. The thought of “decorating is a chore!” ran through my mind the entire time I raked.
After all the debris had been cleared from the area, it was time to set up the squirrels. Once plugged in, they slowly came to life. Unlike a pool floaty’s thin and rubbery feel, they were constructed of sturdy but scratchy polyester. Dave was the one who tied and staked them down, and they looked just like the picture on the box. Although it was still early afternoon, I left them up all day. The squirrels bobbed slightly in the wind, shining brightly and happily in their warm winter hats.
Two of my friends were coming over to watch a movie that evening. As it was winter, the darkness set in quickly. It was the first time the pair had ever visited. While preparing for their arrival, I received a text message notification. It read, “Your house is the one with the chipmunks, right?” I couldn’t help but smile. My Christmas squirrels set my house apart and welcomed my friends to my front door. I finally understood why people make the effort to decorate for the seasons.
That day, I realized these inflatable decorations were more than bothersome clutter. They were incredibly efficient and just as dazzling as any other elaborate lawn decoration in my neighborhood. Despite the inconvenience of decorating, the enchantment and joy these squirrels bring make all the effort worthwhile. I love my Christmas squirrels and can’t wait to add more goofy, inflatable friends to my collection, turning my lawn into a festive wonderland.