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Tag Archive: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Nov 27

Christmas Clark Griswold style – Part 3 They want you to say Grace

Clark Griswold: “Since this is Aunt Bethany’s 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.”
-National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989.

Whether it is Thanksgiving Day or Christmas dinner, the words “they want you to say grace” can strike fear and trepidation in the heart and psyche if one happens to be the chosen one.

Indeed, a daunting task for many—those with stage fright, poor memory, or complete lack of presence of mind when called upon to perform. That would be me.

Downright scary, in fact.

Thus, I look to the classic movie Christmas Vacation and its character Aunt Bethany for guidance in such a challenge.

As for Aunt Bethany, saying Grace can be profoundly simple and result in everyone in the room whispering under his or her collective breath, “Gee, I wish I had thought of that.”

But more about Aunt Bethany’s unusual prayer in a bit.

First, this advice.

Do not be intimidated and know that, yes, there are those among us when called upon to say Grace at important holiday gatherings, are remarkably fluid and gleaming with their words, the preachers and philosophers within each family. At our gatherings that would be cousin Dorothy.

Purely brilliant, inspirational, witty.


For the rest of us who are not nearly as sparkling with our speech, the best option is to punt. Merely ask any child in the room to say their table grace instead of you fumbling through yours. Everyone will love the little guys as they recite their prayers and poems anyway.

Perfect way to catch that Hail Mary saying-grace pass if you do not see it coming.

Now, as promised, let us return to Aunt Bethany’s prayer. Although a funny scene in the movie, Aunt Bethany’s attempt to say Grace is actually visionary. The scene goes like this.

Clark asks Aunt Bethany to say Grace, and being hard-of-hearing, she asks, “What dear?”

Clark’s mother answers very loudly, “Grace!”

Aunt Bethany: “Grace? Ohhh…She passed away thirty years ago…”

Uncle Lewis (frustrated and straining his face as he mouths the words): “They want you to say Grace…The BLESSING!”

Aunt Bethany says, “Oh.”

Everyone at the table folds their hands in prayer and reverently bows their heads awaiting her prayer.

Aunt Bethany begins, “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 says, “Amen.”

Now, I realize that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance like Aunt Bethany was not such an eccentric prayer after all, especially in light of the state of the world all these many years after the movie was made in 1989. Rather, she was prophetic.

I agree with Clark. Amen Aunt Bethany. Good call.

Nov 20

Christmas Clark Griswold style – Part 2

Watching the movie Christmas Vacation is a holiday tradition

Clark Griswold: “The most enjoying traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a symbol of the thpirit of the Griswold Family Chrithmath.” –National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989.

In this Full Circle weekly series about the movie Christmas Vacation, I am exploring how the lead character Clark Griswold tries to create the perfect family Christmas.

In our household, we attempt to follow suit, mostly by making a big deal out of watching the movie.

I don’t know exactly how viewing this classic holiday comedy, with such pomp and circumstance as we do, crept into our holiday traditions. But it did, big time.

Translation: get as many of us together in one spot, usually Thanksgiving weekend, eat some popcorn and pizza, and watch the movie again and again. Repeat the best lines from memory on cue.

Now, even the grandkids know key lines by heart.

We could be over the top, but we do not care as we are having way too much fun with it.

If all the kids cannot be there for the Thanksgiving viewing, no worries. We will gladly repeat this event when the next wave of offspring comes home for Christmas.

It has gotten so bad that most of us speak about mundane things or make casual conversation using quotes from the movie.

For example, when a friend inquired about our nephew Mark who happens to be in the Navy, one son replied with a line from the movie, “Clark, is Rusty still in the Navy?”

When visiting with friends who lament the onslaught of the Christmas season and the mountains of work ahead such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, and writing cards, I give this advice from Ellen Griswold.

“I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

When the kiddos of any age spill something on the carpet, I demand, “And why is the carpet wet, Todd?” And they reply on cue, “I don’t know Margo.”

When my husband says I am trying too hard to make this the perfect Christmas, even he gets in the act by quoting the movie characters.

Ellen Griswold: “You set standards that no family activity can live up to.”
Clark Griswold: “When have I ever done that?”
Ellen: “Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations…”

In my defense, I discovered that perhaps we are not alone in this Christmas Vacation movie obsession.

The other evening we attended a neighborhood wiener roast and bonfire. There, I got into a conversation with one son’s former English teacher, Bob. He remembered how about this time of year; he would begin quoting Christmas Vacation to his students, and give them a quiz on the movie. My son says that no one knows more about this movie than Mr. G.

So I am blaming Bob for starting this holiday obsession, uh tradition.

Nov 13

‘Tis the season for exterior illumination, already!

Art: “The little lights aren’t twinkling.” Clark: “I know Art, and thanks for noticing”.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989.

We are just a little behind on a few things around here, such as putting away exterior Christmas lights from last year.  And, now it is time to get them out already.

Some still lay on the floor of the basement. Some are in plastic bags and are semi-sorted into piles of those that work and those that do not.  Some Christmas lights are in the garage, I think.

I have no idea where to find the extension cords.

And already, it is the “season of exterior illumination”!  It sneaks up on us every November, does it not?

Scream.  Go ahead, it is allowed.  I am.

Last year, the spousal unit, in anticipation of future exterior illumination projects, said that he would never again climb a ladder and hang Christmas lights.  Never again!

I agreed, but that was last year.

This year, the grown kids are all coming home to the empty nest, so of course we need exterior illumination.

He still says, “No, I am not climbing up on that ladder.”

This brings me to “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey says.

Visiting the nail salon last week, I noticed an ad from a young man who advertised that he installs Christmas lights no matter how tall the roof or how difficult the job.

I called him as soon as my nail polish dried and I could safely dial.

He came straight away, and in no time, carried the lights from the basement, sorted them, found the extension cords, put up a humongous ladder all by himself, climbed the monstrosity, and had that exterior illumination up and twinkling.

This would have taken the hubby days.

I was summarily impressed.

Young man and I accomplished all this before the hubby got home so as to speed up the process.  The spousal unit would be sure to ask questions and slow us down if he were around.

Predictably, as soon as the hubby arrived, he began to spout and spew questions. “Did the young man check all the bulbs, did he plug them in to the usual spots, did he wire them to one switch, and on and on infinitum.

Hubby then flipped the master switch to check the young man’s work. The little lights twinkled perfectly.

Surprised, the hubby remarked, “This is a professional job, very neat and organized, too.”

This young man just taught us everything we need to know about exterior illumination.

Hire it done.

I just love it when a plan comes together.

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