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True Story, Issue #33

"My Monument" by Ander Monson

True Story, Issue #33

Surrounded by his neighbors’ maximalist holiday display—104 inflatable Christmas decorations in all, with not a repetition among them—Ander Monson ponders the history of spectacle and considers the meaning of community. Then, he orders a two-story-tall Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to stand among the desert plants of his Tucson front yard.

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From "My Monument" by Ander Monson

My Rudolph is now by far the largest Christmas decoration on my block. Also: in my neighborhood. Also, quite possibly: in Tucson, Arizona. I have never seen a larger Rudolph in person in my life, though I am sure some exist in the parades my grandmother used to watch on the black-and-white television on holiday mornings.

Fifteen feet tall and motor powered, erect, huge, a monument to or against something, above the roofline of the midcentury ranch house in the front yard, between the rosemary and the ocotillo, the palms and the agave, he stands as long as I will have him, usually from the day after Thanksgiving until the weekend after the New Year begins.
His body, tethered by eight cables dug into the ground so as to resist the wind, supports an oversized, rotating head.

Seen from my neighbors’ perspective, my Rudolph might be perceived to be shaking his head slowly in disapproval at their displays. Or perhaps everywhere they see approval: my participation in their ritual, the shrieks of unidentified children from a street over, even the way their tea leaves dry in their cups—yeses are all around us all the time.