My Inner Clark

Fa La La

Real or artificial? White lights or colored ones? Believe it or not, the choices you make say a lot about you.  And if you believe that I will keep going.

griswold 1

This time of year is the most decorated of all throughout the entire calendar  – and for good reason: we like to celebrate. Decorating is our means of self-expression. Humankind has a deep need to do this. Whether you are a Clark Griswold type (above and right), who celebrates his childlike awe for the holiday, or a simple wreath-on-the-door type, you can’t escape the fact that your decisions tell the world a lot about you.


When I think back to my childhood, I am struck by the idea that we are lucky to have survived this long. According to governmental (from the words “govern” and “mental” meaning “to rule the crazy”) standards and guidelines, everything we did back in the old days was wrong. We wrapped high-voltage wires with explosive bulbs upon them over the dry-as-tinder branches of a tree that was nothing more than kindling wood waiting for a spark to burst into flames. In some cultures, they skipped the middle man, and placed lit candles upon the branches, thereby saving time. This is where we get the term “hot Toddy.”  Todd was the first person to ignite during the holiday season.

bubble light    tinsel 1

And who can forget these beauties?  Above left if the “bubbling bulb,” a Christmas light that included a liquid material almost touching the electric wires. What could be safer than that!  Well, maybe it was the lead tinsel that you see hanging from the tree (right) in the vintage photo above.

Wouldn’t you know it, we had both of them at our house.  That probably explains a lot about how I turned out. Safe – no.  Beautiful – yes!

One year, my father decided it was too much trouble to decorate the house with lights (he was NOT a Clark Griswold), so he built a sign to show his joy. He constructed a frame and tacked pegboard up on it.  Then he spray-painted it silver. Lastly, he strung a bunch of large, red bulbs onto it so that it read “NOEL.” That sign became our Christmas identity for at least a decade; and he loved it because it hooked onto the house in 15 seconds flat. Still, I often wondered why it was up 10 months out of the year.


The odd thing about that sign (that’s not it) is that more than once, kids would come up to me, read it and mistakenly think it said “hotel.” This says a lot about the school system I attended and the overall reading skills of my playmates. I would always brush off their comments with a smile and rent them a room for the night.


colorful lights

So, what does your decorating style say about you? I began thinking about this the other day when I noticed that we don’t have many decorations on the outside of our house – just the inside. I felt that this is a reflection of my personality: I don’t like to be flashy or conspicuous.  I don’t like to get noticed. But on the inside, I am colorful and bold and interesting.

The Treedoggy lights

The same rules apply to the tree (if you have one).  Do you use garland or tinsel? Are all your lights the same color, white, or multi-colored? Or maybe you don’t even use lights. Do your ornaments match? As far as my tree goes, I prefer shiny and colorful, and many of my ornaments are self-made, and most don’t match.


Come to think of it, none of this really matters one bit.  What really matters is that we enjoy this precious time of year and that we do not forget the true meaning of it.  Celebrate in any fashion you like, so long as the spirit of Christmas remains in your heart – and you give your heart to everyone.


griswold 2

About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

6 responses »

  1. Christa says:

    Oh, I love bubbling bulbs! 🙂 I think my Mom still has some. 🙂

  2. anfinsenart says:

    Very enjoyable read! My tree is also a hodge podge of memories, homemade ornaments and flash. Personally, I could enjoy the spirit of Christmas without any decorations at all. I decorate for others who seem to need them.

  3. Colleen says:

    Loved the “hot toddy” The placing of the tinsel was always the biggest deal in our house. My mom I swear would have like me to take a ruler and measure so they were all equidistant — me I liked to through it in the air and see where it landed.

  4. reocochran says:

    I will always laugh at Chevy Chase’s movies, what a funny guy! I am glad to be living a simpler life since I turned 50 a few years back… good post and loved the photos and memories, too.

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