Given that I'm the President of a company called "Sheppard Decorating", I always feel obligated to decorate my own house at Christmas.
The funny thing is that our industry has evolved to the point where we really don't actually decorate anymore.
When my Dad came out to L.A. from Houston around 1960, he went to work for a company called Jones Decorating. This firm had contracts to install christmas decorations on the streets of many cities. Old people like me may remember this sort of thing a long time ago where at almost every intersection there would be lights, garland, etc stretched out and it would go like that for miles.
For part of the year he would install these, another part, take them down, and the rest of the year was spent maintaining the stringers and equipment. Jones Decorating ran a year round Christmas store on Sunset Blvd., where, if for some reason you wanted to go buy a string of lights in June, you could just drive over there and buy them from Elmer Jones himself.
Life went on, and I think it was a combination of lawsuits from drivers who couldn't figure out which of those red and green lights were the traffic signal, plus lawsuits against the city from people who didn't think they should be spending public money on Christmas decorations that killed that type of work.
It seems that when one door closes another opens. Right about that time, the Los Angeles Convention Center opened, followed by the Anaheim Convention Center. Jones started installing trade shows.
Years and years went by, my Dad left Jones for a company called Paradice Decorating. I went to work with him there starting in 1977.
In 1986 we left Paradice and started Sheppard Decorating. I guess we just called it that, because that's what you called companies that install trade shows. In fact, the largest company that does what we do in the US is still called Freeman Decorating.
But, none of us really does any decorating anymore.
Several years ago, my Dad and I went by Jones Decorating, which at the time was still in its original location on Sunset Blvd (he opened there in the 1930's). By this time, Mr. Jones was in his 90's. He talked to me about the history of the company and all. Then he went over to a shelf and grabbed a plastic Santa Claus that was about 3' high. He said, "You ought to have this".
I said, "Mr. Jones, I'd be honored".
He said, "That will be twenty bucks".
He wasn't kidding. I paid the man.
A few years before he died, my Father attended Elmer Jones's 100th birday party. Jones died not long after that. His store stayed open for a few years after that, but eventually closed.
That plastic Santa is lit up and standing outside the house at this very moment.