Jeff Clark's Market Minute

A Survivalist Christmas

Editor’s note: Happy Holidays from Jeff and his team. With our offices closed this week for the holidays, we wanted to share one of Jeff’s holiday classics.

Today’s essay gives you a peek into the Clark household… and one of Jeff’s unusual Christmas traditions…


The Clark household has five Christmas trees. My kids get to decorate one, and they do so predictably. The tree is covered in candy canes, strings of popcorn and cranberries, and a bunch of homemade ornaments only a parent can love.

My wife, the Martha Stewart of Northern California, decorates three trees. They look like they popped out of a Neiman Marcus catalog. Everyone “oohs” and “aahs” whenever they see them.

My tree, however, is the one all of our friends look forward to seeing. Several years ago, I started decorating my Christmas tree in the theme of the current economic and political environment.

Last year, for example, I painstakingly created my own ornaments for a Global Warming Tree. I froze ceramic figurines of polar bears and arctic seals in cubes of ice. I inserted a metal hanger in each one and placed the ornaments on the tree. As the ice melted, the ceramic figurines would fall and shatter onto the hardwood floor below.

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My liberal friends thought the tree was a sensitive statement displaying the threats of mankind’s abuse of the environment. My conservative friends thought it was a hilarious expression of sarcasm. It was the perfect politically agnostic tree.

Not so this year. Yesterday, I unveiled my Survival Tree.

It’s a six-foot potted apple tree. You may recall stories of the Great Depression, when men would set up shop selling apples on street corners. Well, I’m one step ahead of that.

The trunk is covered with burlap sacks that fan out at the bottom – like a tent. So, I have shelter and something with which to catch rainwater.

The Christmas lights wrap around the top of the tree flicker on and off, controlled by a dial. This allows me to send Morse code signals to other survivalists.

The ornaments are made of empty shotgun shells; small bottles of water; canned foods like Spam, refried beans, and tuna fish; and a bunch of gold and silver coins (the chocolate variety – but you get my point).

For tinsel, I bought a bag of shredded U.S. currency and meticulously hung each strand on the tree.

Painted gold bricks and toy guns surround the base of the tree. The message to my friends was simple, and it was written on a small cardboard placard…

“Buy yer own darn gold. ‘Cause you ain’t gettin’ any of mine!”

I hope my friends take my advice. And I hope you do too.

Happy Holidays,

Jeff Clark

Editor’s note: Even with the holidays, you’ll still receive your regularly scheduled Market Minute essays… so keep an eye on your inbox Wednesday, Friday, and Monday (New Year’s Eve).

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