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Every family is uniquely dysfunctional. I might sometimes wonder, “What if I didn’t have that crazy uncle/cousin who amazes everyone yearly with the fact that he is still alive?” or “What if I didn’t have to worry about bringing someone around my highly offensive and unapologetic father/grandfather?” but in reality, I can’t think of anything more boring than having a straightedge, cookie-cutter, pulled right off of a Hallmark card family. If there was a movie centered around my family’s holiday celebration, it would be rated “TV-MA” and most likely banned in some states. The Griswolds, however, portray the perfect amount of hilarious dysfunctionality. If you look closely enough, or in some cases it may just be blatantly apparent, you can see a member of your own family in one of the Griswolds, or at least a relative thereof.
Ellen Griswold, The Glue That Binds
No one holds it together quite like your mom. Ellen has a way of calming Clark like no one else with that smooth, peaceful mom voice. Most moms out there also have this power, which, fortunately for us, prevents the almost certain all out death match that would take place publicly, in the front yard, with all of the neighbors watching. With all that stress on mom’s shoulders, no one minds that Ellen sneaks a little cig in the kitchen, right over the meal preparation. I guarantee your mom has a way of unwinding too, whether it come from a bottle, a pack, or her collection of voodoo dolls resembling you and your siblings hidden in the closet. Remember the days when everyone smoked inside houses? I have family members that still deem this appropriate, and in a far less sophisticated fashion than Ellen and her mother. So to the Ellens of the world, you just keep on keepin’ on.
Clark Griswold, The Patriarch
Our dads, like Clark, just want to make sure they throw their families the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny fucking Kaye. They may not take things to the extreme like Clark (endangering his family, trying too hard to obtain ridiculous holiday flair, day-dreaming about panty-selling vixens, etc.), but they will inevitably participate in typical male habits. Whether it be the need to shoot things, have the best decorated yard on the block, or embarrassingly observe exceptionally good-looking women. If your dad doesn’t, he may need to get checked for low-t or something. Your dad may not uncomfortably sweat and fumble words like Clark Griswold does in front of the hot department store clerk, but it will likely manifest itself somewhere between “Hot damn! Look at the ass on that one!” and just flagrant staring.
Cousin Eddie, The Lovable Fool
Everyone has a cousin or uncle “whose heart is bigger than his brain,” as Clark explains it. This burly family member of yours, upon request, or maybe merely a perceived need, will threaten to kill an individual on your shit-list with his bare hands, cave-man style, on your behalf. No explanation is really even necessary. Someone has wronged you, that is all your Cousin Eddie needs to know. Not to mention, his sheer optimism in the face of self-induced misfortune either reminds you to be thankful for what your Clark has provided, specifically your education, or at least remind you that ignorance truly is bliss.
Audrey Griswold, The Cynical Teenager
Young Audrey, with her lack of enthusiasm for anything, is still winning some kind of hospitality award compared to how I might have behaved at her age if placed in a similar situation. As we turn into young adults, then just regular adults that still refer to ourselves as “young” adults, we all carry a little bit of “bad attitude Audrey” with us when it comes to mass family holiday celebrations. At least now we have the luxury of liquid mood enhancers. If Audrey were smart, she would have kept a vodka stash hidden in her sock drawer. The same goes for our younger cousins. (Side note: Her voice is the best. You can almost foresee her smoking that cig in the kitchen after her failed gang-bang in Old School.)
The Asshole Neighbors, Margo And Todd
I actually feel sorry for these people, mostly because I see myself in them. They have Audrey’s cynicism with added adult features. I also have reason to believe they dislike children. These yuppies turned wannabe suburbia dwellers just want to enjoy the peace and quiet that moving out of the big city brings, while indulging in the finer things that their big city careers afford to them. This is all of us someday. However, living next door to the Griswold menagerie has single handedly ruined a large portion of their fancy belongings, as well as guaranteed them a one-way trip to divorce court, or in the least, marriage counseling. Let’s be like them, minus whole the unstable marital life, plus a good lawyer to sue the shit out of the next-door Griswold’s.
The Senile Grandparents
Your grandparents may not be to the point of wrapping up live animals as gifts, but the older they get, the more obvious it is that they need gift buying assistance. The problem is, they are part of the generation that doesn’t trust online shopping, mostly due to not understanding how to use a computer, yet they are still cognizant enough to know you will blow any cash received on booze and other miscellaneous debauchery. So in an attempt to discourage such behavior, plus wanting the joy of watching you opening a present with your pretend 5-year-old face on, they give you whatever junk they manage to acquire around their house. However, I do appreciate the patriotism that Aunt Bethany brings to the table. I welcome the Pledge of Allegiance at our dinner table this year.
So this year, sit back, mix a strong one, and really take in all of the unique dysfunctions that each of your respective family members brings to the table. Finding the humor in the grand scheme of this whole traveling circus on crack is what, in the long run, ironically keeps us all sane.