In 1989, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, and Randy Quaid was released on December 1st. Written by John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, etc.) this third entry into the series of Vacation movies would become an instant classic. National Lampoon’s Vacation introduced us to the Griswold family back in 1983. It was followed up by National Lampoon’s European Vacation in 1985. But Christmas Vacation is something really special.
Every year my household and many others around the world turn to Christmas Vacation as a holiday tradition. While the movie is laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, it also is very relatable. Clark Griswold is like all of us. He represents that part of all of us that tries so hard to make things great, but often come up short due to unfortunate circumstances. Chevy Chase’s portrayal of the character reflects human nature under the pressure of living in our society while doing his best to put on a brave face until all becomes too much. There’s also a sentimental quality that runs throughout this film that makes it believable, yet incredibly funny. I actually have a family member that, unfortunately, reminds me greatly of cousin Eddie. But that’s what makes this movie so good. Most of us have at least one cousin Eddie in our family somewhere. Clark’s ambition to have an old-fashioned family Christmas is an admirable quality. And, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ve most definitely had situations where it all went wrong and I blew a gasket just like ol’ Clark himself.
The movie is filled with memorable one-liners like “Can’t see the lines can you Russ?”, “Lots of sap! A Little full, but looks great!”, “Can I get you some eggnog, take you out in the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?” and of course the classic “Sh*tters full!”
For a brief amount of time “we” are Clark Griswold. We feel his pain, his anguish, his compassion for others, his disappointments, and ultimately his happiness and his acceptance that all of these things represent what being a family often is all about. Sometimes it’s crazy, sometimes it’s wonderful, but it’s always memorable when family comes together for the holidays.