How quickly the holidays change.
It all started with a cheaply thrown-together, demonstration version in 2000. It was so low-cost and low-tech that it used a hairdryer to provide air pressure. No one noticed or took any orders. But in 2002, tiny and unknown Gemmy Industries filed a patent (1) for a “displayable inflatable figure” that “includes a fan assembly to force airflow into the main body. An internally attached lighting system is fastened to provide illumination without external lighting”
Which is all legalese for the first inflatable lawn decoration. They also have a registered trademark for Airblown® Inflatable (2).
Gemmy is now the market-leading manufacturer of decorative inflatables. They boast hundreds of assorted and distinctive styles, for different holidays. Some are even animated.
Their attraction aside from being “big” is:
Easy to set up.
Requiring no dangerous exploits on a ladder.
No tripping or entanglements with strings of lights.
Their downside is:
Strong wind can wreak havoc with them
The “inflatable graveyard” look when they are deflated.
No one knows exactly how many inflatables have been sold. But it started an entirely new segment of the $29 Billion seasonal decoration market in the US (3).
Once easily set up, they can quickly and completely transform a yard, house. What was once totally Plain-Jane can look festive, exciting, and even hip. No wonder they’ve taken off.
But I wonder if they devalue the holidays. Do they cheapen Christmas? Is the fact that they are so simple, making celebrating Christmas more about what’s easy and effortless?
I’m all for simplifying things, making life less cluttered, less difficult. But isn’t part of celebrating the fact that it’s supposed to take some effort? Cost us something?
There is a cost to Christmas. Or at least there should be.
King David was once offered a "free" sacrifice. Free is good - but not always.
I must pay you for everything. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.
2 Samuel 24:24
Do you see the cost of Christmas? And are you willing to pay it?
(1) Patent Number: 6644843, Inventor: Tsai Chin-Cheng
(2) USPTO Trademark & Patent Filings: Registration 2990716, Serial 76562792