The stress of the impending Christmas holiday has caught up with me. Maybe you can relate. Perhaps by the end of the day today, you will have reached your travel destination or your visiting relatives have arrived on your doorstep.
You haven’t sat down for weeks, having cleaned up the wrapping supplies in time to set the dining table, and then pulled them back out after a last-minute addition of a relative to the festivities. You have survived the melee that is the grocery story parking lot with one wit and come screeching into your driveway on two wheels.
Television dramas and sitcoms like to show Christmas movies surfacing in dreams during the holiday season. You’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life featured in characters’ dream sequences, as Brothers & Sisters did a few weeks ago.
One of the favorite movies in our house is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Last night, it became my own personal dream sequence. If you know the movie, think through it with me, and I am betting you could conjure your own dream sequence featuring the characters of your holiday.
One member of the family, exceedingly idealistic about holidays, has unrealistically high expectations for this Christmas, willing to go to great lengths for a Normal Rockwell experience. The next door neighbors, who don’t celebrate Christmas, shake their heads at the spectacle.
A backwoods cousin arrives, bursting with contentment and enthusiasm while getting on everyone’s nerves with his annoying habits and clumsy foibles.
Arriving with the in-laws is a cacophony of conflict, with each trying to out-shout the other, everyone talking at the same time.
Meanwhile, tensions at the office escalate when the traditional holiday bonus doesn’t come and the protagonist tries to put up a cheerful front with the family. He suffers pangs of nostalgia about his own childhood Christmases and struggles to keep the spirit amidst the chaos.
Christmas Eve arrives, along with the doddering aunt and uncle, who have one mental marble between them. She doesn’t know her own name and says the Pledge of Allegiance when asked to say grace. He sets the Christmas tree on fire with his cigar. Don’t you just hate when that happens?
In one of the final scenes, the idealist exclaims, “Merry Christmas, Holy Sh**, where’sthe Tylenol?”