Sunday Morning Open Thread: Boxing Day

An inflatable Santa Claus loomed four stories over a Christmas tree lot, waving in the breeze and catching Jesse Rieser’s attention as he drove through Phoenix in 2009.

The decoration was absurd, Rieser said later, but joyous in its own way…

Inspired, he set out the next year to document Christmas’s contradictions — its sincerity and creativity on one hand, and its awkwardness and bleakness on the other. Rieser traveled to 18 states over the next decade, from Oregon to Florida, and ended in New York City to capture images that were visually distinct from those of less populated areas.

After researching each region, Rieser knocked on the doors of houses with decorations he wanted to photograph. Often, he said, people were eager to discuss their flamboyant displays. Many of them told him that they staged the elaborate scenes to tap into nostalgia for their childhoods, while some said they were trying to bring joy to other families — a particularly poignant goal during the isolating coronavirus pandemic.

“A lot of these homes become the sort of de facto community centers for the neighborhood,” Rieser said. “The kids want to come, so the parents come. It sort of brings people together in this kind of adorable side effect of this mass consumption.”…

“There’s joy in the void of the unexpected,” he said. “It’s sort of like they’re controlling the narrative for those five weeks of the year when … other times, people feel like they may not have the autonomy or control over their life.”

The post Sunday Morning Open Thread: Boxing Day appeared first on Balloon Juice.