“250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights…25,000 lights…I dedicate this house to the Griswold Family Christmas…Drumroll, please…Drumroll…Jooooooy to the woorld. “
Clark Griswold is, without question, one of the most iconic Christmas figures of all time. I have often dreamed that one day I might outdo Clark’s light display. If I ever do, I hope I don’t alienate every neighbor I have in the process, even though that would be vintage Griswold.
It’s December 4. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. It’s day 4 of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. The local radio station has been on its 24-hour Christmas music kick for days now. It’s Christmas season, people. And I feel like I’m waaaay behind. I ask myself, Where’s your inner-Griswold? In fact, I’m more like Clark’s neighbors right now. I haven’t put up one decoration nor have I bought one present.
Deep down I know what it is…I can’t say it out loud…It’s traitorous…It hurts too much…
Okay, here goes…
I…want…less…oftheGriswoldkindofChristmas. (Ewww…I hate to say it.) I think about that oversized tree that Clark uprooted and then later sawed while wearing a Jason mask, and my heart gushes. But…I know it’s true. I’m not as interested as I used to be in outshining Clark W. Griswold.
Let me be clear. I will watch Christmas Vacation at least a few times this Christmas season, and I will laugh until my stomach hurts each time. I will never not love that movie. I will decorate the house with lights. I will have lots of eggnog (hopefully with some Cousin Eddie type). I will eat a meal with my extended family (hopefully without catfood in the jello). I will watch Bing Crosby tap dancing with Danny Kaye. I’m simply saying I don’t want to gorge myself with “Christmas spirit” and miss an encounter with the God who becomes “With Us.”
One of the great scenes of Christmas Vacation is when Clark gets stuck in the cold attic. He warms himself with, amongst other ridiculous things, some pink evening gloves. He watches an old film reel of Christmas ’59. And during that scene, Ray Charles’ “That Spirit of Christmas” plays. The second verse goes like this:
I was sittin by the fire side
Taking a walk through the snow
Listening to a children’s choir
Singing songs about Jesus
The blessed way that he came to us
The blessed way that he came to us…That’s what I want. I don’t necessarily want the “real meaning” of Christmas. To be honest, I doubt that I nor anyone else really knows what that is. It’s simpler, really. In the midst of the lights, eggnog, jello, and movies, I want to discover a deeper desire for the Christ. Like the way the prophets desired the Christ: Isaiah’s thirst for a well of salvation; Jeremiah’s hope for green pastures where there’s been rubble and ash; Micah’s vision of the Shepherd who’ll stand on Earth and give us heartier food; Zechariah’s dream of a Sunrise that will guide us into the path of peace. I want that for myself. I want it for everyone for Christmas.
Happy Christmas Season.