'A Front Yard View of the Holidays' in America

This long-horned and lighted Caddy made a single appearance in 1994, when Patoski captured it. i i

This long-horned and lighted Caddy made a single appearance in 1994, when Patoski captured it in Dallas. Christina Patoski hide caption

itoggle caption Christina Patoski
This long-horned and lighted Caddy made a single appearance in 1994, when Patoski captured it.

This long-horned and lighted Caddy made a single appearance in 1994, when Patoski captured it in Dallas.

Christina Patoski
 No structure is inappropriate for decoration. Sometimes, subtle displays are the most powerful. i i

No structure is inappropriate for decoration. Sometimes, subtle displays are the most powerful. Christina Patoski hide caption

itoggle caption Christina Patoski
 No structure is inappropriate for decoration. Sometimes, subtle displays are the most powerful.

No structure is inappropriate for decoration. Sometimes, subtle displays are the most powerful.

Christina Patoski
 A display featuring robots and 'Star Wars' figures in Palm Springs is Patoski's 2004 Christmas i i

A display featuring robots and Star Wars figures in Palm Springs is Patoski's 2004 Christmas favorite. Christina Patoski hide caption

itoggle caption Christina Patoski
 A display featuring robots and 'Star Wars' figures in Palm Springs is Patoski's 2004 Christmas

A display featuring robots and Star Wars figures in Palm Springs is Patoski's 2004 Christmas favorite.

Christina Patoski

For more than 30 years, Texas photographer Christina Patoski has been documenting holiday displays in the front yards of Americans across the country. Patoski's images of America's seasonal displays appear in her new book, Merry Christmas, America: A Front Yard View of the Holidays.

Patoski tells NPR's Madeleine Brand that she sees holiday decorating as a "transitive form of folk art." She notes that we as Americans have a unique way of mixing popular culture with the traditional iconography of Christmas.

When taking her photos, Patoski tries to imagine what the sometimes garish, sometimes touching displays would look like to someone from another country. But she notes that the urge to light up the sky in the dead of winter is something primal, and that over the course of her three decades of observation, the tradition of holiday decoration has continued to thrive and grow in ways that continue to fascinate her.

Books Featured In This Story

Merry Christmas, America

A Front Yard View of the Holidays

by Christina Patoski

Paperback, 112 pages | purchase

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Merry Christmas, America
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A Front Yard View of the Holidays
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Christina Patoski

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