“They’ll carry anything that sells,” says David Croyle, president of FamilyLife, a non-denominational ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. “This simply signals intelligent buying within Wal-Mart.”
I was perusing the Target online catalog today in search of inflatable Christmas yard decorations and was disappointed to see that, although they carried 232 inflatable products, their selection of Christmas blowup products was, at best, dismal. Their catalog offers just one inflatable Nativity Scene and the only other items available which are Christmas related (and inflatable) are as follows:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, an eight-foot tall Santa Claus, and a five-foot tall Snoopy dressed up like Santa Claus. I give a half-hearted thumbs-up to everything but the Snoopy/Santa and the Nativity Scene. I enlarged the picture of the Snoopy figure and, what is supposed to be a green gift-wrapped present under his right front paw, looks more like a watermelon. If I was a kid and my parents drove by someone’s front yard Christmas display and I saw this inflatable Snoopy I would say to myself: “Why is he holding a watermelon? Dogs don’t eat watermelons!” It would be much better (and more in keeping with the Spirit of Christmas) if Snoopy was holding an inflatable can of Alpo.
This is not meant to be construed as a criticism of Target. I simply want to suggest that, from a Christian perspective, it might behoove their marketing department to recognize the fact that their otherwise fine operation is sorely lacking when it comes to the availability of inflatable Christmas stuff. To be fair, Walmart is only slightly better than Target in this arena. Their online catalog carries 233 inflatable products, beating out Target by one. The vast majority of the Walmart inflatable selection consists of secular items, including at least ninety sports team blowups most notably a five-foot tall version of the University of South Carolina sports mascot, “Cocky.” I only mention this because USC is my alma mater.
Walmart’s online catalog includes a very nice fifteen-foot tall Santa in a hot air balloon (at only $99). I wish I could afford that! Times are tough right now, however, and I have to forgo this purchase in favor of paying my overdue electric bill. I would love to have this hot air balloon hovering above my single-wide. I would put a hidden speaker in the basket and sit in my darkened living room with a wireless microphone…hollering at my fellow trailer park dwellers: “Get a job ya Bum!” and “Ho, Ho, Ho, look at da Ho!” or “Hey, kid, did you steal that bike?”
Walmart has a more extensive selection of inflatable Christmas items than their online site would indicate. I drove to the closest location and found myself oohing and ahhing at the blowup Christmas display on a shelf overhead and out-of-reach. How disappointing! I wanted to touch them, to stroke them, to feel the blowup spirit coming over me. I ran to the register, grabbed the mike and shouted on the store PA: “Hallelujah, I have reached the Inflatable Promised Land!” Turns out that I was lost “in the spirit” and my message came out in tongues instead: “Ableda doodoo freebop simagodan, bee-bee hassa mon!” At least one of the customers in that department understood, however, because she flopped on the floor, rolled around, and started up with the tongues as well. Either that or she had a seizure. At any rate, the clerk was so busy calling an ambulance that she didn’t bother reporting me to security.
Alas, when my excitement subsided, I realized that the selection in this store did not include a blowup Nativity Scene. Oh, they had your standard inflatable candy canes and reindeer as well as a few ho-hum Santas. They also offer a very nice inflatable North Pole Scene replete with snowmen and elves with little blowup hammers, as well as an assortment of reindeer and candy canes and snow covered plastic pine trees but, in comparing the store selection to the catalog, I noticed that a wonderful nine-foot tall Santa penguin is only available by special order online! A word to Walmart executives: You are missing the boat on this one. Please! Take my word as an on-again, off-again practicing Christian. Nothing says more to me about the redemptive nature of the Holiday season than a nine-foot tall inflatable penguin. I would be apprehensive about buying such an item through a catalog, however, as this is another touchy-feely, fondle prior-to-purchase item. For me at least.
As I stated earlier, I didn’t see any inflatable Nativity Scenes in this particular Walmart and, in perusing their catalog, I didn’t see one available there either. At least Target offers this item in their catalog. In looking at the picture of their Inflatable Nativity Scene, however, I have to say that it looks really chintzy. I guess that’s the best they can do for $76.49. It seems to me, however, that if Target is able to offer a high-quality, top-of-the-line blowup item such as the $479.99 “Blast Zone Pirate Bay Inflatable Water Park” (shown below) they ought to offer a higher quality Nativity Scene as well. So much for family values.
I would rather buy the inflatable monkey in the Target catalog than any of the Christmas stuff as it looks to be of better quality and is only $15.99. I am considering a boycott of Walmart and Target blowup Christmas stuff. Maybe I will forgo my annual inflatable icon budget this holiday season and just place that solitary monkey in the yard along with a hand-lettered protest sign tucked under his little rubbery arm. Are you listening Target? Do you hear me Walmart?
Okay, by now you’re probably asking yourself, “Is this guy nuts or what?”. Why should he care so much about Inflatable Christmas yard decor? I like the idea of blowup denominational and non-denominational semi-religious holiday items because they act as a metaphor for our own beliefs in practical application. I mean, we blow them up when we need them, then we deflate them, shove them in a box, stick them in a closet and forget about them until next year… forgetting, as well, the message of Christ and the meaning of Christmas.