Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Vacation Countdown, Part 2

We're ready to unveil our family's Top Five lines from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, based on use within the household and extended family. The first half of the Top Ten are here.

Once again, the requisite photo. Because in 2014, adults need stories with pictures.
Once again these aren't necessarily the best or funniest lines, otherwise we would have found a spot for "Last year he was a pixie dust spreader on the Tilt-A-Whirl. He thinks that maybe next year he'll be guessing people's weights or barking for the Yak woman. Did you ever see her, Clark? She's got these horns coming out of her head...ugly as sin, but a sweet gal. And a helluva good cook" or "That ain't the friggin' Christmas star, Griz, that's the light of the sewage treatment plant" or, of course, "Shitter was full," which, given the flush rates in our household, is a phrase to keep an eye on in the future.

But those have no real practical use in the real world. Instead, our #5 and #4 lines have been used in various forms.

#5.  This is a surprise, Clark. This is just a real nice surprise. Just a Real. Nice. Surpriiiiise.

You can hear Clark's back cracking in the bear hug as you read it. Or if you can't, you can hear it here. We've used this set of lines on Christmas presents, in thank you cards, on custom-made T-shirts, and even in wedding proposals. And it's gaining momentum. We get some weird looks from the kids when we say it, but we're used to that. Won't be the last time. Most of the surprises we have as parents aren't of the pleasant variety, so anytime    

#4.  If this isn't the biggest bag over the head, punch in the face I ever got , Goddammit! Accompanied by swift kicking motions to bags of Christmas presents accumulated under the Christmas tree, this versatile phrase can be applied to any sense of wrongdoing perpetrated against a member of the family. It's basically an adult version of the standard temper tantrum my kids throw when they don't get their onw way.

But this one gets used in all seetings...familial, corporate, societal, DMV, sports teams losing, Fantasy Football teams losing (especially Fantasy Football teams losing) you name it.

See also: #7: It's all part of the experience, honey. If you overuse "bag over the head" you're likely to get hit with an "It's all part of the experience, honey." So stop whining, get the bag off your head, buck up, press on, and have the hap-hap-happiest...wait, we're getting them all confused now.

#3: You serious, Clark?
If you're a fan of the movie, you've said it. Over anything. The more mundane the topic, the better. But it's genuine. Just as Eddie stopped to confirm Clark's playful announcement that "an airline pilot spotted Santa's sleigh on its way in from New York," you can confirm any piece of useful information you receive by saying the same thing.

Though I'd keep it playful, and not use it when you hear a family member is having quadruple-bypass surgery or has just lost his job. Jury's still out on whether you can use it if you hear a loved one is "in the clinic, gettin' cured off the Wild Turkey." I say yes. Go ahead.

#2. I don't KNOW, Margo. 
Our daughter has thought on occasion that her name is Margo, as she is usually on the receiving end of this well-worn phrase. We may have called her Margo even when not using this phrase just because.

To be fair, she's usually the one in the house asking the impossible questions that invite eye-rolling and sarcastic answers. Questions such as "Where's my dress?" "Where are my shoes?" or "Where's my hairbrush?" She has yet to ask why the carpet is all wet, though if she does, you can rest assured the answer will be, "Because you forgot to tuck the shower curtain in again, Margo," For all other questions, however, "I don't KNOW, Margo" is the go-to response.

You also have to wonder if the guy who played Todd "gets that" a lot. Does anyone recognize him in the street? Because if so, I can imagine a cadre of less sophisticated people flocking to him saying, "I don't KNOW, Margo," and asking him to sign the backs of their T-shirts. Poor guy.

Before we reveal the most used Christmas Vacation phrase in our family, let's take one more timeout to recognize three characters who came up empty in our countdown despite numerous laughs generated. Art, Bethany, and Uncle Louis all got shut out and that's a shame. Here then is a mini Top 15 of lines just by them that you can break out when the mood strikes or the situation calls for it:

15. "The little lights are not twinkling."
14. "Damn it, Bethany, he guessed it."
13. "I need to eat, so I can take my back pills." (Got my mom with that one once.)
12. "This house is bigger than your old one."
11. "Grace? She passed away 30 years ago."
10. "What are you gonna bawl all over it or ya gonna open it?"
9. "Don't throw me down, Clark."
8. "Hey Griz, you're not doing anything constructive. Run into the living room, get my stogie."
7. "It was an ugly tree anyway."
6. "What is it? A letter confirming your reservation at the nuthouse?"
5. "So what's the matter with you?"
4. "At least it's out of its misery."
3. "Oh dear, did I break wind?"
2. "Da BLES-SING!"
1. " I should say it? I should say it? Hello, everybody!"

And now on to the #1 most used phrase from Christmas Vacation:

#1. "I don't know what to say except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."

This one has picked up a ton of momentum in recent years as we've become adults and discovered that the magic of Christmas is purely man-made. We use it as a funny way to explain away the stress of the holiday season, although at times the phrase "Much truth is said in jest" applies.

This is a phrase I'd like to eradicate from our speech in future years but we'll see. Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year so why all the misery? What's the cause of the stress? Is it the pursuit of perfection? (If so I blame Lexus and their "cars with bows" ads.) Is it the cookies? Are we trying to do too much?

Of course we're all trying to do too much. It's Christmas! That's what Christmas is all about! This is why New Year's Resolution season comes so soon we can dial ourselves back from the excesses of the most recent holiday season.

We can't do it all. This year we didn't put the toy train around the Christmas Tree, (forgot) didn't build the gingerbread house, (ran out of time) or do the Christmas cookie puzzle (forgot and ran out of time.) And so what? Christmas was still magical. I think? Let me go ask the kids. OK yeah, it was magical. Hopefully not solely because of that damned elf either.

Take a look back at your Christmas. Did you claim to be in misery at any point? Can you do without the thing that you were doing at the time when you said it? Then see if you can not do it next year.

But if you're a parent and your kids still believe in the magic of Christmas, and you connected with all the people who are important to you, then it was a good holiday. No misery required.

And that's the list. We hope it "enhanced your holiday spirit." 

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