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Clarks share Christmas spirit through decoration

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 12/27/2012 8:45 AM

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ROCHESTER — As Sue and Terry Clark give a tour of their home, Christmas carols startle passersby.

The carols stream from motion activated Christmas decorations. They have a reindeer named Buck and a snowman armed with a plunger in the downstairs bathroom.

The snowman belts out "pull up a seat, make yourself comfortable," and "you look flushed," as part of his repertoire.

Sue and Terry chuckle.

It's all part of their fun in sharing Christmas.

"It's nuts . . . it is. It's a little nuts," Sue says, smiling. "I have to go into therapy one of these years . . . Christmas Anonymous."

Sue is retired from Michaels hobby store and Mayo Clinic and Terry from IBM.

They have decorated their home for Christmas for years, but since moving to their place in northeast Rochester nine years ago, their decorating has escalated.

Nary a room is untouched with holiday cheer. Every room, right down to the bathroom, is decorated with something Christmas.

New this year is the "Stop and Smell the Roses" tree created with purple Halloween lights someone was throwing out and a rose centerpiece. The tree is a mixture of white, pink and golden roses, white globes and the glowing purple lights.

"I reinvent a lot of stuff," Sue said.

The tree was $5 at the Salvation Army. Most of their decorations are like that, purchased at less than full price, Sue said. They find things that catch their eye and find a place for them.

"We never know what we're going to do with stuff, but we like it," she said.

And they don't buy items to sell them, instead they'll likely gift it to someone else or donate it when they can no longer use the decoration.

In the formal living room, Sue has what her boys' call the "Dayton's tree." It's filled with white poinsettias, candles and globes. All are off-white on a green tree.

Their guest bedroom is the Victorian room with an angel who hasn't earned her wings and a small tree. Their bedroom has a collection of items that don't match the themes of other rooms.

At the base of the stairs is their family tree.

"This is really the only tree that counts," Sue said.

There's a letter to Santa written a long time ago by son Jeff, who's know 43. The scene includes a photo of a family fishing trip to Cass Lake in 1980 when they caught 360 perch in one day, bulbs decorated by their grandsons and pictures of their grandsons. Pretty much everything on the tree has meaning for them.

Ditto the village collection. A Volkswagen Beetle has a tree on top because Sue and a friend would take the friend's VW to get a Christmas tree each year. There's an Irish pub, a barn because they had their wedding dance in a barn north of town, four hockey players on the ice because their four sons played hockey and a restaurant with a pig atop because Terry's father started Cheap Charlie's in Rochester.

"It wouldn't mean anything to anybody else," Sue said.

Come the second week of January, Sue and Terry will spend about a week taking things down and packing them away into their basement storage room.