Most people have a Christmas family tradition.
Perhaps you exchange gifts at a certain time of day, go ice skating (at the mall if you live in the south like me), eat a favorite dish, or read the story of Jesus’s birth.
I think our family has adopted most of these traditions. But one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is sit back, relax and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
In a comedic way, this movie takes all the things that typically occur around Christmas time and takes them to an extreme.
Whether it’s hanging Christmas lights, spending time with family or shopping, Clark Griswold finds himself in the middle of them all.
Clark, suburban super dad and husband, is great in this movie (as with all the National Lampoons Vacation movies, in my opinion).
Memorable moments for me include the trek to pick out the family Christmas tree, out doing the neighborhood in Christmas lights, flying down a hill in a super slick sled and an unexpected visit from good ole’ cousin Eddie.
Focus On The Reason For The Season
However, beyond the comedy, the movie reminds me of a couple of other things during the Christmas season.
Unfortunately, the shopping, family, eating, decorating, etc. all end up becoming stressful events and take quite a toll on pour Clark. And to be honest, we’re less than a week away and some of those same things have caused a little stress for our family too.
Often we’re reminded to stop and remember the reason for the Christmas season. This reason, of course, is the birth of Jesus Christ who came to give us grace and a hope for eternal life through his death on the cross.
This season, we do have to stop and focus and pray our thanksgiving for this birth. It’s hard to do, but as I write this post and reread the story in the Bible, I’ve been able to refocus and you know; it feels a whole lot better.
Clark’s Personal Finance Holiday Stressor
Clark, on the quest for becoming the ultimate super dad made a big financial mistake.
Clark, expecting to receive a big Christmas bonus from his company put money down on a swimming pool. But after sharing the news with his excited family, he later came to learn his company didn’t provide a Christmas bonus.
Now we’re not sure what type of agreement Clark signed when he put the money down. But his concern became how he would provide the ultimate Christmas gift for his family and pay for it.
For those who have seen the movie, we all know that cousin Eddie came to the rescue and Clark’s bonus was quickly reinstated.
Note: For those who have seen the movie, I would not recommend Cousin Eddie’s methods for dealing with personal finance challenges. But even though the situation was funny in the end, we can learn or be reminded of a couple things.
First we shouldn’t spend or agree to spend before we have that raise, bonus or next month’s income! Clark spent on Christmas emotion.
Second, we shouldn’t let a Christmas gift become our primary focus for the season.
For many, next year will be filled with making monthly payments towards this year’s Christmas! I’ve been there myself.
We’ve seen a lot of personal finance bloggers try to encourage people in different ways to give this year. I think there are really two reasons for this.
First, it helps us keep our focus on the giving spirit of the holiday season. Often this is forgotten as again the stress of all the activities overtakes us.
And second, creativity is what must be used when there isn’t enough money to buy gifts. And that’s okay, because gifts don’t necessarily have to come in the form of large purchases such as Clark’s pool.
In fact, our gift, Jesus Christ, is free to those whom choose to accept it.
So, this Christmas week, remember Christ’s birth and what His eternal gift means to you.
Okay, I have just two questions for you? Fun: What is your favorite part of Christmas Vacation? Serious: How do you keep your focus on the true meaning of Christmas? Photo by IMDB.
This very well could win the prize for oddest Christmas tradition ever. My parents own a house in Florida, and have so for many many years now. They have a porch in the back with a jacuzzi.
Every Christmas, our family plays the fish game. We have our little fishing poles with magnets attached to the end, and the jacuzzi is filled with magnetic fish. Then, we all go “fishing”. The backs of the fish have numbers on them which corresponds to “stocking stuffers” that are also piled up under the tree.
A great tradition when we were all younger–now that were approaching middle age, we all look silly.
But its a Christmas tradition, so what the heck.
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Joe Plemon says
Our family has watched “Christmas Vacation” so many times that, between us all, we could probably quote the entire movie. My favorite part? Hmmm. Probably when Cousin Eddie informs Clark, concerning his “tenement on wheels”, “Now Clark, that’s an RV. And don’t be getting any ideas about it. It is going with us when we leave next month.” sorry for the paraphrase…I don’t know the exact conversation.
How do we keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas? When our four kids were still at home, we would, as a family, act out the Christmas story. I was always the “donkey”. On Christmas morning, we would all sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus before opening any gifts. Now we attend a Christmas Eve Service at our church that is very meaningful.
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I love National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. My favorite scene is when Clark finally gets the Christmas lights to work, and his neighbors trash their house because his lights are so bright they can’t see anything. Ah, the Griswolds.
I’ll watch my niece and nephews play with their toys on Christmas morning. After that’s over, we get in the car and visit my aunts and cousins reminiscing about the old times.
And Christmas isn’t complete without A Christmas Story.
I keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas by not buying gifts for people who aren’t struggling. That’s everyone in my family. Any Christmas giving is charitable giving.
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Paul @ FiscalGeek says
Without a doubt my favorite movie of all time, I cannot define my favorite part but they would have to be anything involving cousin Eddie. “I don’t know about the cat but I sure am enjoying it.”
And how I remember the reason for the season is easy since 17 years ago today on Christmas Eve was the day I accepted Jesus into my heart. I love Christmas and know that was God’s special timing. Merry Christmas to you all!
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Peter Anderson says
Wow, that really does make it an extra special day for you Paul. Thanks for sharing!
Jason @ One Money Design says
We are heading to church this evening to celebrate Christ’s birth as we do every Christmas Eve.
It’s been a great afternoon as we’re seeing some snow fall in Dallas. It doesn’t happen too often here around Christmas.
My favorite part of Christmas Vacation? Probably the Christmas dinner when it all turns to chaos from there.
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Surayah Davis says
I must confess that I have yet to see the movie :-( This year, my favorite part of this holiday season is PEACE & QUIET!!! No trekking thru the snow, no long airport lines, no hot stoves (ok, well maybe a LITTLE), no herds of little cousins running around the house…..Instead, I get some quiet time to reflect on 2009 as well as to focus on my plans/strategies for 2010.
How do I focus on the true meaning of Christmas? Well, ever since I started having laser-like focus on paying off my debt, I’ve keep plenty more money in my pockets–which takes my focus off of the commercialism and on what is really important–Christ’s agenda for my life.
As as ‘side-blessing’, I know that when the New Year comes in, I won’t be stressing over holiday debt!