Bridging the Divided


National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation turns 30 this year. Hardly seems possible. It is one of our family traditions and I don’t think we have missed too many years gathered ‘round the TV to watch the hysterical and disastrous events of Christmas unfold at the Griswold’s. 

Clark Griswold is every person who has ever fantasized about the perfect yet impossible family Christmas holiday. The Griswold family Christmas, in one way or another, represents all of our hopes, expectations, hiccups, and disasters of a good ole family Christmas. Sometimes we try too hard to create the ideal Christmas, and to his credit, no one tried harder than Clark. In the end, the lessons learned are about the importance of family, the young, the old, and the in-between, about putting aside differences however glaring they may be, and accepting everyone as they are, not as we want them to be.

The dialogues are timeless and we have seen it so many times we can quote most of it. Aunt Bethany, the elderly aunt is delightfully confused, deaf, and content in every situation. As the matriarch of the Griswold clan, Aunt Bethany is asked to say grace before their Christmas Eve dinner but doesn’t quite hear or understand what is being asked of her. “Grace? Oh, she passed away 30 years ago.” Lewis, her toupee-wearing, cigar-smoking less-than-patient, but in his own way adoring husband, leans over and animatedly says, “THE BLESS-ING”. Aunt Bethany proceeds to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. 

My children believe me to be deaf as a stump like Aunt Bethany. I disagree. I am just highly skilled in selective hearing, otherwise known as deaf to others who are not privy to the nuances of selective hearing. Be that as it may, more than once during the Christmas holiday my adult children take great delight in mimicking Uncle Lewis’ “THE BLESS-ING”. It never gets old. And, I know years from now when I am gone from this world, this little thing, so much a part of our family Christmas, will be told in their families while reminiscing about playfully teasing their grandmother or great grandmother. It is the little things we remember that are most precious to us and warm our hearts.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas celebration…..

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