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'A Front Yard View of the Holidays' in America

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.

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