A Real Life "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" Story

I'm almost ashamed to admit that until I met my husband-to-be, I had never watched the movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. To my credit, I was only 14 when we started dating, so it's not that bad.


It's actually a good thing I saved up my viewings of this holiday classic, because my husband is obsessed with the movie and all of the excessive merriment it portrays, especially the exterior decorating. I've seen the movie many times now, but I didn't really need to watch it. I live it every year as a married woman.

You see, my husband thinks he is Clark Griswold.

To him, there is no such thing as too many lights. He adds exterior outlets to each house we live in. He has even made a lighted sign for our holiday yard display proclaiming us as, "The Griswold's."

I guess I should have expected this annual identity crisis. One of my earliest memories from our dating days is a Sunday in late November spent decorating outside his mother's house for Christmas.

At 15, this was the best thing in the world. An entire afternoon just me, my boyfriend and dozens of vintage Blow Mold lawn ornaments.

It amazed me how he lined the sidewalk, driveway and curbside with perfectly straight strands of twinkling lights. (My Mr. Griswold possesses a slight case of OCD.) I watched in awe when he climbed on the roof to place Santa and his reindeer by the chimney with care.

His hard work resulted in a bright, festive house that family and friends made special trips to see.

Fast forward a few years, and all those fascinating lights and plastic decorations are at our house, my house. And, it turns out that I prefer a more subdued, sophisticated look -- green wreaths on the windows, red bows on the porch, maybe a simple outline of white lights on the rooftop.

This is completely against my husband's holiday decorating nature.

Every year after Thanksgiving, I ask him to tone it down just this once. It would save time because there is less to set up and take back down. It would keep so many people from creeping by our house in the dark. It would save us money with a lower electricity bill.

There have been a few years I've thought I succeeded. But, I can't seem to the Griswold out of him, and my husband counters each of my reasons with one of his own.

It's tradition to go all out outside. Our daughters' faces light up, pun intended, when they see all the decorations. Astronauts on the space station wouldn't be able to spot our house during December if we didn't have everything lit up.

There's no denying that.

This year, we are in a new house, which means a uncharted territory with a bigger yard, new outlets and, the pièce de résistance, taller trees.

After two moves, six years outside in the elements and one ruthless decluttering spree, I think I have finally convinced my husband to retire the homemade Griswold sign. He has the trees now.

He intends to light them up, "like flames of fire." I only hope he is metaphorically speaking.

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