Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 3, 2012

Tidbits: Clark Griswold doesn't live here

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — I'm no Grinch by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy putting up my Christmas tree and adding the ornaments I've collected through the years. While I could only fill a miniature tree my first few years out on my own, I've since built up a nice collection of ornaments that have caught my eye while shopping, that have been given to me by others or that I've won in my family's annual Dirty Santa Ornament Exchange.

Trimming the tree was always the highlight of the pre-Christmas season when I was growing up. My mom still has my paper bag gingerbread man, carefully constructed in kindergarten, as well as some baked ornaments she made with my sister, the neighbor kids and myself when we were trapped indoors one December Saturday and she was about ready to pull her hair out as we ran from one side of the house to the other playing some silly made up game that involved roughhousing and destruction. She hasn't put a tree up in a couple of Christmases, and I'm giving her fair warning that if I don't see one this year, that box of treasures is going home with me.

Around my house there are snowmen, my décor of choice, adorning shelves and doorways and walls, adding a little winter cheer throughout the season. It all stays up through the first of the year, too, with the old wives tale being that it brings holiday cheer into the new year. I don't have a cat anymore, so my tree is safe. My dog doesn't seem interested in batting about the ornaments and knocking over the tree.

There was always a portion of the house that has remained the same during the winter, however. I never have decorated outside the house. That's partly because I didn't have the necessary lights and greenery and bows to do an exterior decoration. I also lacked the tools, like a ladder, and the nerve to stand on a ladder and reach those high eaves around my house. Had I fallen, it would have been a double whammy of the initial pain of injury and the injured pride when my friends teased me mercilessly for the next several years.

This year, though, I had no choice. I came across the cutest little yard sign — a snowman inviting Santa to please stop here. I placed him in the yard hoping it would be enough to showcase my Christmas cheer to neighbors and passerby. It wasn't. There he was, standing in my flower bed that hasn't seen a flower in a few months, surrounded by the last remnants of the creeping phlox and the bare branches of my shrubbery and trees. He just looked sad.

With a little extra time on my hands, and a borrowed ladder, I decided to try and change that. I found lighted garland and plain garland (because they never make those garland strands fluffy enough), some icicle lights and a few bows and a heavy-duty outside extension cord and I decorated the porch and steps. It doesn't look all that impressive by day, but when it gets dark around 4:30 and I plug the lights in, it is lovely.

Maybe next year I'll add some lights under the remainder of the eaves, but that's probably about as far as I'd take the outside decoration. There's a fine line between Christmas cheer and Griswald-ish.

National Lampoon Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase as the lovable Clark Griswold set the bar for too much Christmas, with the family patriarch covering every square inch of his roof with Christmas lights. When they turned on, the glow was enough to be spotted high above by airplanes and the power company was left scratching their heads wondering what it was that sent their power demand into overdrive.

I'll do my best not to stress TVA's power supply this holiday season and remember that sometimes, less really is more.

For those who haven't yet completed those holiday decorations, be careful, don't overload your power outlets and let your holiday cheer shine!

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at