When I was a kid and even into my teens, Christmas was a time of year that I looked forward to for so many reasons. My family Christmas was always at my grandparents house. My Grandmother was the primary decorator and she took great pride in her decor. There was an archway that separated the living room from the dining room, and there was a string of silver garland that would run along that archway, and clipped to the garland in random spots were Christmas cards mailed to my grandparents. On the “buffet table” in the dining room was the hand crafted, hand painted, made with endearing love, Christmas village. The tree was always real; tinsel, glass and plastic ornaments, a finely crafted angel topper, and lights of every color. The house would have a mixed smell of food cooking and being prepped by Grandma in the kitchen and the waft of after shave from my Grandfather coming from wherever he was sitting. As family would arrive, there would be hugs, greetings and sorting of gifts and presents. Normally we would pass out and open gifts before eating, so once all guests would arrive and find a seat, I was always the lone and lucky kid of the family would had the job of handing out gifts. We always waited until all gifts were distributed before opening. We never really took turns opening, but would instead just have a bit of a free-for-all. All the while, people were talking, having conversations with the person next to them, then across the room, then back again. After gifts were opened, all the wrapping paper would get tossed, but those bows had to be gathered together because Grandma wanted to keep them for next year! Then came dinner, half the family gathering at the dinner table, the other half finding a spot in the living room using those lovely wooden tray tables. Shortly after dinner was done, several of us would gather and play games around the table. Normally, my Mother would never play, but instead would sit in the other room shouting unsolicited answers, yet never wanted to play. The evening would come to an end with at least one person, usually my Grandfather, was already sound asleep in a deep food coma. Packing up all the gifts, Grandma would have packed away all the food and divided up leftovers for people to take home, the games are put away, the snow may or may not be falling outside, and another wonderful year has passed.
Staring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Randy Quaid
Director: Jeremiah Chechik
Distributor: Warner Bros
In Theaters: December 1, 1989
On Video: November 18, 1997
Christmas Vacation is an exaggerated example of Christmas gatherings in the 80’s. Parents, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, kids, all coming together to celebrate time together.
“Oh, Eddie… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”
For those few who don’t know, Christmas Vacation is a story about the Griswold family and how they host their family Christmas in the late 80’s. Going out and cutting down the family Christmas tree, hosting the family to stay in their home, dealing with a possible Christmas bonus from the patriarchs workplace, and all sorts of other antics.
“She falls down a well, her eyes go cross. She gets kicked by a mule. They go back. I don’t know.”
This movie is a Christmas classic through and through. It is also not a super kid-friendly movie either due to a bit of vulgar language use. But aside from that, this is one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, in my humble opinion. There are SO many great and classic scenes, many great and classic one-liners, just an all around awesome movie.
“Every time Catherine revved up the microwave, I’d piss my pants and forget who I was for about half an hour or so.”
Some of my favorite sequences include the super-greased, silver, saucer sled that rockets him down the hillside, crashing into damn near everyone and everything. There are a few scenes when you can see a rope pulling him, but it’s still incredibly funny. Especially later when Eddie finds the sled and it is clearly burned out.
The new pool daydream, especially Eddie in this tank top and leopard print mankini combo, pure hilarity. I find it additionally funny when he gets startled in the middle of his daydream when his niece thinks that he’s Santa Claus.
“The most enjoying traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin. Thith tree is a thymbol of the thpirit of the Griswold family Chrithmath.”
I love the sequence with the squirrel in the tree. Everyone is terrified of the little rodent, Clark asking for Eddie because he think that Eddie eats squirrels. Eventually the dog, Snot, goes after it and chases it outside and into the arms of the obnoxious neighbor.
The turkey that Eddie’s wife Catherine cooks is fantastic. Just as it is cut into, it’s explodes into this dried out husk of what should be a tasty turkey but is more or less been turned into jerky. It kind of reminds me of another memory from my family Christmas as a kid. There was one year when my Grandmother was making the gravy for the mashed potatoes, but had forgotten the seasoning packet so it was basically slightly flavored water. I of course was the first to point it out and my Grandmother shot me a look that if looks could kill, I’d have been a goner.
“Yes it is, it’s a bit nipply out. I mean nippy out, what did I say, nipple? Huh, there is a nip in the air.”
The house lights, holy mackerel the house lights! Those lights are truly a conquest that Clark must complete. He works so hard, risks life and limb, gets it all set up, then nothing happens. Eventually the problem is solved, but the lights are such a tremendous feature of the holiday experience.
One of my favorite scenes in all of cinema, is the stress fueled tirade that Clark goes on about his boss. Instead of talking about it, I’ll just share it.
“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?”
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!