Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Christmas Vacation

Hi. Holiday EINTKILF continues, and this time, we’re talking about something a little bit hilarious because next week, I’ma hit you with some of that “Blue Christmas” jazz errybody is always crooning about. Oh come on, we all know that there is just a twinge of sadness to the holidays. It keeps us human.

I have mentioned that I have three brothers once or twice or fifty-billion times, right? In case you missed it: I have three brothers. Being the only girl in the fam means not always getting your way (I know, right?! You would think it would be the opposite!), which means I do not always get to make my brothers watch Christmas movies in late September like I want to. But, the dears usually let me sneak in a little bit of this gem, even on Thanksgiving day. And who doesn’t relate to the Griswolds, anyway?

EINTKILF National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

1. Just go to a freakin’ lot for your Christmas tree.
I love Clark Griswold so much, like I always wished I had a corny dad like him. Actually, I find myself typically attracted to boys that will end up being just like him, the kind that embarrass their (our) kids one day, intentionally or (preferably) unintentionally.

Clark hauls the family out to the middle of nowhere to find the perfect Christmas tree. By the time the family gets out to Clark’s ideal tree–gigantic and definitely not appropriate to put inside of a house–everyone is entirely frozen.

Ellen: Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.
Clark: That’s all part of the experience, honey.

2. Make sure your electricity is working.
Clark’s stereotypical cornball dadness extends to the cliche need to outdo the neighbors’ Christmas decorations. Clark puts approximately five trillion Christmas lights all over the roof of their house, and at the Grand Lighting Ceremony, in front of the entire extended family, the lights don’t turn on.

Is your house on fire, Clark?” Aunt Bethany

Of course, Ellen eventually realizes that the control panel downstairs isn’t clicked on, so yadda, yadda, yadda the lights come on and Elaine Benes is pissed.

3. Let’s not overdue it, Mom.

But seriously, who in their right mind would invite and/or allow (in this case) the entire family to come over and stay in their home during Christmas? Okay, I am coming from the very privileged position of having like…two people in my whole family (that’s a lie), but I still cannot imagine myself wanting to suffer through familial obligations for more than like, an hour and a half. It makes for a hilarious holiday movie (this one, Home Alone, The Family Stone), but it is also the reason everyone hates the holidays. You know when you are a kid and you are overwhelmed with confusion as to why adults seem to hate the holidays so much? And then you grow up and you’re like, oh yeah, I hate these flingin’ flangin‘ people and I’m forced to sit around a full table sharing my food with them, that is why adults hate this bidness.

But that is really pessimistic. Like I said, there are few people I share a holiday with, and they mostly all have my last name and all of my genes, so the fighting that occurs is totally normal and not stressful and usually involves not wanting to watch someone play Call of Duty, but wanting to watch Elf for the fifth time that morning.

Lesson: don’t invite your entire family over, unless you must.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f***ing Kaye.” Clark

Because then you will lose your godforsaken mind, and is that worth it on Christmas? Or maybe it’s only worth it on Christmas, I forget.

4. Not all families are created equal.
: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?
Eddie: Nah, I’m doing just fine, Clark.

Oh, Cousin Eddie.

 Clark’s relationship with his wife Ellen’s cousin Eddie is the best part of the Vacation franchise. Eddie is less fortunate in all aspects than the Griswold family. He is poor, not very intelligent, not very classy, not very attractive, not very anything. All of his children have…interesting quirks and overall, he is just a mess. The hot mess. Cousin Eddie invented hot messes.

5. Give a heads up before you show up.
Because Eddie shows up unexpectedly, with the whole family, gift-less and needy and hilarious.

Eddie: You surprised to see us, Clark?
Clark: Oh Eddie, If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.

Send an owl or something before you show up at your cousin-by-marriage’s home is all I’m saying.

6. How to say “grace” at dinner.
Being from a very non-religious family to say the least, I have always learned how to say grace from movies and television. As I have learned all things, if you have not noticed. Ashley Banks taught me once, Bart Simpson taught me once (“Dear god, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing”) and my very favorite version comes from the Griswold family.

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany’s 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Bethany: What, dear?
Nora: Grace!
Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say grace. The BLESSING!
Bethany: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Clark: Amen.

I am more of a patriot than a person of faith, so I can get down with that.

My littlest brother’s family is Mormon and his aunt Julie asked me to say grace once. Best believe I am respectful and quick on my feet, so I pulled it off. Why do you think I am so good at interviews? I can make anything up on the spot. However, one of my life’s biggest regrets is that I didn’t pull off a Fresh Prince rap in the moment. They thought I was such a sweet little girl…

7. Nostalgia is a killer.
Let me paint a scene for you, because it is the funniest thing in almost any movie ever, like seriously I cry/laugh every time I watch it.

Clark  gets trapped upstairs in the attic by accident, and it is very cold and he is very stuck because the family all goes off shopping without him, so he digs into the costume trunk and starts putting on various items like a mink shawl and pink prom fancy gloves and a blue hair turban(?) He then discovers an old reel of family footage and the greatest song, Ray Charles’ “That Spirit of Christmas” starts to play and we watch Clark sitting in his crazy get-up crying alone while watching himself as a young boy in the snow with his sleigh. The moment is so, so incredibly touching and all of a sudden, the family is home, Ellen pulls on the attic door to hide the gifts without knowing Clark is sitting on the door, and he falls through the attic floor.

 This scene makes my sternest brother laugh uproariously every time, so I extra love it. It also cracks me up in the same vein of Gretchen Weiners kicking that stereo into Jason’s face. Every. Time.

8. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
And definitely do not count your Christmas bonus before it is direct deposited into your bank account. (Jk, they didn’t have direct deposit back in 1989, I’m sure. Did they even have credit cards?) Clark totally thinks his bank account will be on swole after his fat Christmas bonus, and then he finds out the bonus is just a membership to the Jelly of the Month club. Jelly. Not even cheese. There’s no protein in jelly!

So Cousin Eddie kidnaps his boss and somehow, like an episode of Full House or something, everything works out and the Christmas bonuses are reinstated.

No word on whether or not Clark installed the dream pool he wanted.

ALSO, because it is my duty on this gorgeous green Earth to inform you all of little pop culture tidbits you might not yet know: Clark’s boss is played by Bill Murray’s brother. Yes, he is played by my future brother-in-law. You are welcome.

9. Don’t overcook the turkey.
Classic Christmas movie/tv show joke: a ruined turkey.

Poor Catherine, Ellen’s cousin and Eddie’s wife, has her first run at cooking a turkey and in an incredibly disappointing moment, Clark cuts into the turkey and it deflates. Everyone eats it anyway, because that is what family is for: eating your poorly made holiday food. Come on, didn’t I just tell you about the trifle?

10. People make a difference.
It’s people who make a difference… little people, like yourselves.” Bill Murray’s brother

Go ahead and make a difference this holiday season, little people. Let a lil’ love into your grouchy Christmas hearts.

                                           “Hallelujah! Holy shit, where’s the Tylenol?”

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