Alas, Thanksgiving is behind us.
Sometime in the next day or so, Lola Melson will pull the plugs on the two Pilgrims and a turkey that have graced the front yard of her Scenic Drive home for the past few weeks. Some, and especially the two Pilgrims and the well-lighted turkey, will find this moment a bit deflating. Another holiday in the books.
But not Melson. Out with the Pilgrims, in with the Christmas inflatables. Indeed, the Modesto woman is a maam for all seasons, with a collection of yard inflatables that covers many of the major holidays: Of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then its on to Valentines Day, Easter, the Fourth of July and Halloween. And debuting in March: a leprechaun for St. Patricks Day. While some folks cover their homes with so many lights they can be seen from the International Space Station, Melson goes for the air-filled creatures powered by a blower and staked to the ground so they dont blow away.
I think Ive pretty well got it covered, she said. Ive been doing it for about the last five years, ever since I moved over here. And I had done it before when I lived on the west side of Modesto, but not to this extent.
Indeed, I pass by her place to and from work every day, and over the years, Ive noticed more and more holiday inflatables joining the lawn party, as do others who travel Scenic Drive regularly.
Of course, putting large, colorful objects out for everyone to see has its downsides. Thieves who are justifiably stereotyped as being naughty, not nice have stolen three of her Christmas inflatables and two Halloween blow-ups, she said.
The rest, they dont seem to care about, she said. Ive got my name plastered all over them, so theres not much they can do with them. Theyre not going to sell them.
And now theyll get caught on camera, because she recently purchased a security system. But enough about the Grinches and gremlins of the world. Melson prefers to look at the joy the inflatables bring to others and therefore to her in reward.
I was out there decorating one day, and a woman stopped by, Melson said.
The woman told Melson she goes by the home every day to visit her husband at a convalescent home just down the road.
She told me (the inflatables) brighten her day, Melson said. Another woman stopped by one day and told me, I go by here every day. It puts me in a better mood when I get to work.
One Christmastime, a young girl came to the door. She brought me a beautiful box of candy, Melson said.
Others have left notes on her door or sent letters by mail to the street address, telling her they enjoy and appreciate seeing the characters. Neighbors sometimes stop by to chat if she is outside while they are on their walks, she said.
Motorists, she said, will honk at you when youre out there.
Between July Fourth and Halloween, the grass gets to grow.
People will say, Wheres the decorations? she said.
She used to buy the characters at department stores. Now, she orders online through a site called Yardinflatables.com. Theyve got just about everything, she said.
Assuming it isnt stolen, each inflatable lasts about four years. They get pretty faded looking, she said. It depends on what time of year. The heat gets em. They just tire out after a few years.
Melson noticed recently that she doesnt have one for Memorial Day. But I could use the (blow-up) flag from the Fourth of July, she said. Same for Veterans Day, too.
After all, she loves putting smiles on faces. That is her reward. I just enjoy doing it, Melson said. I love all of the holidays. Theyre great. Theyre fun.
Even inflating, you might say.