He’s the kind of guy that’s known for setting unrealistic expectations on almost everything he does, he’s even called “the last family man” by his co-workers. That man is Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), a high-level food additive executive who insists on having Christmas at his house alongside every living relative in his family, in-law or otherwise. Due the utter chaos that such a large gathering of people under one roof during the most stressful time of the year will bring, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (which is a part of the Warner Bros. Holiday Gift Guide) is a testament to not only family, but to how much one man can take during the holidays. Though, to be fair, it’s not like Clark doesn’t let out a little steam here and there with a well placed barb at his family’s expense. And those are the real present to us, the viewer. So, start the drum roll, here are Clark Griswold’s lines that you wish you could use on your own relatives when the holidays roll around.
“That’s all part of the experience, honey.”
This line is good natured enough that you might actually get away with, depending on your delivery, and where you are in the family hierarchy this holiday. When Aubrey (Juliette Lewis), continues to complain about the family’s trek through the wilderness to find the perfect Christmas tree, Clark is as wide-eyed and hopeful as ever, anticipating a long and merry holiday ahead. He tells her it’s part of the experience because to him, that’s something to cherish.
“Bend over and I’ll show ya!”
Even though Clark uses this on on his neighbors, the Chesters, when talking about the size of his Christmas tree, there’s bound to be more than one opportunity to work this quote in. Though considering Clark’s rather unpleasant relationship with his neighbors, it’s not entirely recommended.
“I’ll be outside for… the season.”
Sometimes the sheer stress of the holidays can be enough to make you want to curl up in the fetal position and wish it all away. For times like this, simply repeat this line – although it’s best used under your breath, delivered much like Clark did, when he starts to realize how over his head he is when the first of three waves of relatives shows up at his door.
“If I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn’t be any more surprised than I am right now, Eddie.”
As hard as it is for Clark to get over the fact that Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) has made it all the way to his home in Chicago via a run-down RV without telling him first, he has no problem at all expressing just how completely surprised he is that he did, masking his hostility while he’s at it. It’s an important lesson to remember should you get thrown a curveball like this.
“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere? Leave you for dead?”
Clark’s best lines are often said to himself through half-gritted teeth, and once the surprise of Cousin Eddie’s unannounced visit wears off, so comes the reality that he actually has to spend some time with him. He does his best to be courteous, but Eddie’s good-natured clumsiness can wear anyone’s patience thin. In that case, it’s important to have a go-to line like this to keep to yourself, and your half-gritted teeth.
“I can’t even afford to be an elf.”
While Clark continues to be preoccupied by his missing bonus check, his mind wanders as he stares out his kitchen window, dreaming of the pool he worries he won’t be able to afford. Before long, his first-world problems are dwarfed after talking to Eddie’s daughter, Ruby Sue (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), who’s already given up on Santa after they “didn’t get squat” last year. There’s a little life lesson to be had there.
“Oh, the silent majesty of a winter’s morn, the clean, cool chill of the holiday air, and some asshole in a bathrobe that’s emptying a chemical toilet into my sewer.”
It’s Clark at his most poetic, reflecting on the quiet beauty that comes with holiday mornings, and how that stillness can be utterly derailed by those very relatives you’re celebrating it with. For that reason, you may have to use this line sparingly. Though if you do, your fellow Christmas Vacation fans will recognize it as the overshadowed and oft-forgotten prelude to Cousin Eddie’s immortal line “Sh*tter’s full.”
“If he keeps it up it will be his last Christmas.”
There’s probably going to be a point this year where you’ll be on your knees cleaning up the trash your cousin’s dog spilled all over the floor, and as this is happening, there’s sure to be a relative nearby that will start demanding something. Such is the case with cantankerous old Uncle Lewis (William Hickey, may he rest in peace) when Clark and Ellen are cleaning up after Eddie’s dog, Snot. In situations like that, this line of thinking isn’t exactly taboo, but saying it sure can be.
“Hallelujah! Holy sh*t! Where’s the Tylenol?”
Every man has his breaking point. This is the moment that Clark finds his, courtesy of a membership to The Jelly of the Month Club in lieu of a Christmas bonus. As he goes on an irrational, profanity-filled rant for the ages, he makes a last-ditch, borderline psychotic effort to angrily get everyone into the holiday spirit. More than any other moment, this is what people think of when they think of Clark in Christmas Vacation, and it’s the kind of moment that’ll get played over and over in your head when things start to look their worst.
“Don’t piss me off, Art!”
With the holidays having literally crumbled around him, Clark flat out refuses to let his family leave. Although using this line will probably upset some of the older relatives, so use it with caution.
“It means something different for everyone.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas movie if it didn’t include a take on the meaning of Christmas, which as Clark explains here, is up to each individual to decide for themselves. Even if it takes Uncle Lewis accidentally igniting the toxic gas in the sewer as a result of Cousin Eddie’s illegal toilet emptying to get it all going, once their perpetually abused lawn ornament Santa is launched into the sky, and Aunt Bethany (Mae Questal, may she also rest in peace) proudly singing “God Bless America”, it really does start to feel like Christmas. Hopefully the holiday spirit reaches you as well, despite or because of your loved ones.
Hope you enjoyed our look back at Christmas Vacation. Our friends at Warner Bros. asked us to remind readers that the Christmas Vacation Steel Book Blu Ray is available for purchase here.