National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a modern-day Christmas classic, it’s one of those movies that we’ll watch over and over, from start to finish. For many of us it’s because it contains the ingredients necessary for a good Christmas movie. It’s very relatable, it’s extremely easy to identify with the characters, the comedy highlights the absurdities that are our lives and of course more Holiday Cheer than you can shake an elf at.
I feel Clark’s pain. We all want that perfect Christmas, not for ourselves but for our families and those we love. It’s not a status thing like throwing the best Christmas Party and having people talk about it for years to come. It’s more about giving the gift of Christmas memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
One thing you need to accept is that everyone’s family is crazy, including your own. Have you ever had to have “that talk” with someone you were involved with before they met your family? I’m not talking about your immediate family, your parental units or your siblings. I’m talking about your extended family, your aunts, uncles and cousins. That crazy family, to which I’m sure you’re now nodding in agreement.
For those of us lucky enough to grow up with a large crazy family, we all remember the insanity that came before a holiday gathering, the cleaning, the preparation and the growing parental/child holiday tension. Thank God Santa couldn’t read minds because I’d be waking up to nothing on Christmas morning. Don’t worry Rusty, we’ve all been there.
Despite the family drama, the craziness, the quirkiness, the looser your cousin married, the snide remark that may, or may not, have been made in jest, aside from all of that we still love them. Besides, I’m sure your cousin had the “crazy family” talk with her looser husband before he met all of you. Embrace the insanity, embrace your inner Ellen Griswold.
Wanting to make Christmas perfect is normal but perfect is subjective. Growing up I was lucky to be in the family that had the rest of the extended family over. Some years my father would have considered “perfect,” meaning everything from dinner, to desert, to gift-giving all went out without a hitch.
For me, perfect was the year all of us kids waited for everyone to fill their plates, say grace and then we somehow convinced everyone to play musical chairs before dinner. The losers had to eat at the kids table, us kids got to eat at the grown-up’s table and you had to eat whatever was on the plate in front of you. The silliness and laughter continued until everyone went home.
But other than wanting to give his family the perfect Christmas, his other Christmas gift to his family is an inground pool and in order to have it for next summer, he has to pay for it now. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the money right now but he will once he gets his annual company Christmas bonus. Problem solved; Clark writes a check.
Sadly, Clark’s employer cancelled the Christmas bonuses without warning in order to save money.
For anyone who hasn’t seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I won’t give away the ending, but it ends in true Griswold fashion.
In the end, Clark had it right. You can plan the perfect Christmas, but don’t expect your family, the Christmas lights, your neighbors and your boss to cooperate.
As far as the Christmas bonus goes, if any of you got as Ruby Sue put it, “The shaft” this year, remember that 266,000 new jobs were added in November. How’s that for a gift?
The immortal words of Clark W. Griswold Jr., “Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?”
You can try, you can fight but, in the end, Christmas is what you make it. Enjoy Christmas, enjoy your family in whatever form it comes in and have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Allan Giberti is the host of RI Red Radio on 990WBOB.com. You can listen to Allan live on Mondays at 7pm and Tuesdays at 8pm. All times Eastern.
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