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Now that's Christmas spirit!

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Taylor County family has 53 inflatable Christmas decorations

By Moreland Jeff

 

Jeff Richardson can never be accused of being a Grinch or a Scrooge during the Christmas season.

In fact, Richardson and his wife, Jennifer, are the opposite. They show their Christmas cheer for everyone who cares to take a peek at their front yard.

What’s in that yard? How about 53 inflatable Christmas decorations?

Yep, you read that correctly. Richardson’s home features a Christmas landscape rivaled only by the North Pole, and he loves every minute of it.

He said it all started back in 2007 when he and his wife had their Christmas lights destroyed by a storm.

“I had a big garage behind my house here, and we had a bunch of Christmas lights in it. A funnel cloud came along and destroyed all of it,” he said. Rather than replace those lights, he took a different approach.

Richardson described himself and his wife as “kind of traditional,” and that’s why he said they had never bought any of the relatively new inflatable decorations. But after their others were destroyed, they took the leap.

“We bought our first blow-up back in 2007, and I’ve still got it. It just kind of snowballed from there. We got to falling in love with them when we see them. You get one here and there, and now, it’s been a 10-year growing thing for us,” he said.

The Richardsons get a thrill from the decorations, but their biggest thrill is entertaining others. Jeff said people love to see the decorations, and he often gets comments from people about them.

“Usually every year, we’ll be putting some out, and somebody will come by and say, ‘Oh, we just love what you do.’ We had a mother and daughter walking down the road this year who were tickled to death. It seems like we get a little more people every year,” he said. “It’s for people coming by, people that see it and people that love it, that’s our Christmas for them.”

The Richardsons also have a next-door neighbor who loves their decorations. A few years ago, that neighbor decided to join in the fun and compete with them. That competition didn’t last long before the neighbor realized he had met his match.

“He gave up,” Richardson said. “He’ll walk around at night and look at them. He said if he was a kid, he would get a blanket and lay out there, he loves it so much.”

Richardson said the electric company also enjoys his decorations. With all of them lighting up and some having animation, the bill can get a little pricey. That’s what made him decide to set a schedule for his spectacular showplace.

“I’ve got them on timers, so I usually run them about six hours a night,” he said. “We used to run them dusk to dawn, but I got a $600 electric bill one year and realized we had to figure something out here.”

For Richardson, Christmas has always been about fun. He has a 21-year-old step-daughter with his wife, but when she was younger, he made sure to make Christmas fun for her.

“We were in Tractor Supply one day back when she was younger, and there was this great big old stuffed horse. She wanted that thing so bad it liked to have killed her, but I told her to wait, that maybe Santa Claus would bring it to her,” he said. “Well, I went back the next day and bought it, and I had my brother-in-law write a note on it because she’d know our handwriting. He wrote, ‘I saw you crying in Tractor Supply for this, and I thought you should have it.’ And I pinned that to that saddle and stuck it under the tree. She was so happy, she layed on that thing and cried for probably 30 minutes.”

Another year, the family collected a little Santa Claus memorabilia on Christmas morning. While Santa was delivering presents to the Richardson home, he got his coat caught on a screw in the wall near the family’s Christmas tree.

“I told her Santa would be putting presents under the tree, and he wouldn’t want to tear his coat,” Richardson said.

He went to the store and bought a red and white Santa hat and cut a little swatch out of it, then placed the swatch on the screw.

“The next morning, she was convinced Santa had torn his coat while leaving presents at her house. She kept that for I don’t know how long,” Richardson said with a laugh almost as jolly as Santa himself.

“I really think Santa Claus is in the people doing it. It just passes down from grandfather to father to son. Really, it’s for the children,” he said.

To take a look at the decorations yourself, drive by Richardson’s home, which is located at 362 Smith Chapel Road. He said the decorations are usually inflated from around 5:30-11:30 p.m. each night, and he would love to have you enjoy them.

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