When you think of some of the great movie families at Christmastime, you think of the Baileys from It’s A Wonderful Life, the Cratchets from A Christmas Carol, and the Hobbs from Elf. But it’s important to remember one of the true torchbearers of cinematic Christmas spirit: the one and only Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase).
For the Griswold family’s third film, 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, they decided to stay home and have Christmas come to them. And despite every possible obstacle thrown in their way, the Griswold family manages to maintain their holiday cheer. If you’re the type whose love of Christmas simply cannot be deterred, here are a few things you might want to check to see if you qualify as an honorary member of the Griswold family.
You Sing The Songs Of The Season
With the holidays fast approaching, some people end up getting a little too overwhelmed with the inescapable amount of Christmas songs that surround them this time of year. For a lot of people, hearing some jazzy, AM radio version of “Let It Snow” on an unending loop can sand down their Christmas spirit (and patience) down to a nub. However, if you’re one of the people that turns up the radio to sing along with your favorite carols, then you might find yourself in good company with Clark Griswold.
From the very beginning of the film, Clark barely gets done with his baritone-led rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” before kicking it into high gear with a rousing version of “Deck The Halls.” As far as Clark is concerned, Christmas carols take precedent over everything — except maybe showing up some hyper-aggressive truck on the highway. (Clark has a problem of not being able to let things go).
Obviously, Christmas carols will always be a divisive topic, but if you’re the type that always has a song in their heart this time of year and you know all the words to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” by heart, you’d find yourself in good company riding shotgun with ol’ Clark. Just make sure to fasten your seatbelt first.
Your Holiday Decor Has To Be The Best
As far as decking the halls go, there’s a lot riding on finding the perfect Christmas tree for your home. Clark goes one step further by driving out to the middle of nowhere to find the perfect tree, scoffing at the suggestion of limiting himself to the meager offerings of a backlot Christmas tree salesman. While you might not drive out to the woods and rip a pine tree out by its roots, there’s no shame in putting some effort into finding a tree that fills you with glad tidings every time you look at it. Much like how Clark knows he’s found his when it starts calling to him like an omen on the side of that snow-covered hill, you’ll just know when you’ve found the right tree.
Commitment to holiday decor doesn’t end there, of course. While the tree is the undisputed centerpiece, your Christmas lights are like a beacon of holiday cheer for all the world to see (or, at least, everyone who lives on your block). After all, no sooner does Clark get home and (eventually) get the tree inside that he starts stapling thousands and thousands of Christmas lights to exterior walls of his home. Be it a sap-covered living room or lights so bright that they blind the neighbors and cause a brownout, Clark’s commitment to Christmas decorations is like a ‘How To’ guide for people that can’t get enough of the holidays. For those that need to find the biggest tree, string up enough Christmas lights to blind the neighbors, or rub oil on a sled to make 500 times slicker than any cooking surface (don’t do this. You’ll die.), simply sit back and let Clark be your guide.
You Welcome All Visitors — Even Through Gritted Teeth
Between all the gift-buying, decorating, and non-stop caroling, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is also a time for sacrifice. Specifically, the sacrifice of having to spend time with your extended family.
Sure, these are people that you love, but cramming them together in one house, around one dining table, is bicker-filled ordeal all to itself. Clark knew this as well as anyone, and even his co-worker, Neil (Sam McMurray), called him “the last real family man.” Judging by what Clark’s willing to go through for his family, that is by no means an exaggeration.
Welcoming both sides of your family can be a daunting, if not outright terrifying prospect. Even Clark’s wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), expresses her reservations. But even with all the passive-aggression, gift-wrapped house pets, lack of space, and outward aggression Clark’s Christmas spirit remains undeterred — even when the notorious Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family show up out of nowhere. When you really love the holidays, sometimes you just have to look past all the stress and occasional (or frequent) unpleasantness and truly appreciate the fact that you’ll be spending the holidays together. Dried out turkey, and all.
You Embrace The Sentiment Of The Season
For all the running around we end up doing over the holidays, it’s important to take a few minutes and reflect back on everything that’s happened in the past year, and even let your mind lazily drift back and reflect on the Christmases that came before. Even Clark manages to take some time to do that, though it’s prompted by him getting locked in the attic while stashing away some presents.