“We’re kicking off our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh
to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select
that most important of Christmas symbols.”
— Clark Griswold, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
Friends, there’s such a thing as tradition — and, try as I may, I just can’t seem to break from it. Though I’m now 24 and have no business scarfing down chocolate for breakfast, I dutifully open the windows on my advent calendar and remove my little treat each day in December. My Christmas stocking? Yeah, it’s got Cabbage Patch Kids on it. (What? I was born in the ’80s. Please don’t act like you don’t know.) My sister and I may or may not leave out cookies for “Santa” every year, though I’ve been lax and not baked them from scratch a few times in the last, oh, five years. (The store-bought ones are just as good. Right? Sorry to break your heart with that admission, Maw Maw — our family baking guru.)
And know what else I’ll never be able to part with each holiday season, despite the fact that I’ve now seen it an estimated 1,284,468 times? A movie so ingrained in my holiday rituals, I’ve memorized almost every comedic moment — and frequently quote it to my family and friends? A film that has become An Institution In the Meg Household — capitalized letters, if you please — but one my dad now refuses to watch, because he’s just so darn sick of it?
Yes, friends, I speak of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” that gem of a film starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo that is sure to bring tears (of laughter) to the eyes of all who view it. Released in 1989, our copy is on VHS — videotapes, whoa . . . remember those? — and is greatly weathered with age. Still, we pull it out every year and gather around with our hot chocolate, coffee and grins, ready to enjoy the magic all over again.
It’s recently come to my attention that my sister’s boyfriend Eric has never seen this movie. I swear, a cold shiver ran through my entire body. How have you lived 23 years on this planet of ours and never watched “Christmas Vacation”? It’s blasphemy. It’s ridiculous. And I feel as though I am personally responsible for remedying this Terrible, Terrible Situation.
Our annual viewing of this holiday classic has not yet taken place, but it’s only December 3 — I have plenty of time in which to torture — er, entertain — Eric with my favorite scenes, complete with voices and dramatic reenactments (I was president of the Thespian Troupe in high school, so don’t think I’m playing around). Until then, I’d like to provide a sample of what’s to come . . . a round of pre-Christmas dinner appetizers, if you will. All quotes taken from IMDB or my brain, as the case may be.
I have to admit I’m partial to sweet, senile Aunt Bethany — and to her fantastic one-liners sprinkled through the script. Uncoincidentally, I’ve worked hard to perfect my Aunt Bethany impression over the years! And I think I’ve just about got it. Because my jokey, giggly humor about knowing this movie inside and out? Not really so jokey. Stop by and see me and I’ll be happy to prove my “Christmas Vacation” knowledge! (Unless I’m in my afternoon caffeine-craving slump — then don’t bother.)
Cousin 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.
Ellen: Oh, Aunt Bethany — you shouldn’t have done that.
Aunt Bethany: Oh dear, did I break wind?
Uncle Lewis: Jesus, did the room clear out, Bethany? Hell no, she means presents. You shouldn’t have brought presents.
Uncle Lewis: Hey Gris, if you’re not doing anything constructive, run into the living room and get my stogey.
Clark: Is there anything else I can do for you, Uncle Lewis?
Ellen: He’s an old man. This may be his last Christmas.
Clark: If he keeps it up, it WILL be his last Christmas.
Aunt Bethany: What’s that sound? You hear it? It’s a funny squeaky sound.
Uncle Lewis: You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.
Ellen: Clark! I don’t want to spend the holidays dead!
Art: [to Rocky] You got a kiss for me?
Eddie: Better take a rain check on that, Art — he’s got a lip fungus they ain’t identified yet!
Todd: [trying to fix a busted stereo] Obviously something had to break the window, something had to break the stereo.
Margo: And why is the carpet all wet, Todd?!
Todd: I don’t KNOW, Margo!
Eddie: She falls down a well, her eyes go cross. She gets kicked by a mule, they go back. [laughs] I don’t know!
Audrey: Do you sleep with your brother? Do you know how sick and twisted that is?
Ellen: Well, I’m sleeping with your father. Don’t be so dramatic.
Audrey: I hope nobody I know drives by and sees me standing in the yard staring at the house in my pajamas.
Art: If they know your dad, they won’t think anything of it.
Clark: 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: Naw, I’m doing just fine, Clark.