Movie B-School: Griswolds and Gratitude (Christmas Vacation)

3 minute read

::Put “Mele Kilikmaka” on repeat for maximum reading pleasure::

Now that the mood is set, the tree is lit, and the Christmas grumpiness is beginning to manifest, it’s the perfect time to discuss our collective American spirit animal, Clark Griswold. Good, old Clark, the loving husband and father of two, who has entertained us since 1983 with his temper tantrums and well-meaning. In this Vacation in particular, Clark is older, slightly wiser, and far more disgruntled as he celebrates a tense pre-holiday get-together with both sides of the family. He lovingly wants to host an old-fashioned family Christmas, but hardly anticipates the sacrimonious arrival of helpless hanger-oner, Cousin Eddie, sending him over the edge eventually.

This time of year is full of tests for all of us – mental, emotional, patience, and we have to pass or we get the “Grinch” label. Separating this inner turmoil from work is even more difficult, as that’s the place we’re being asked to complete tasks that we may or may not want to complete. Little requests start to feel like big requests as we’re overwhelmed with impending Christmas shopping, decorating, and visiting relatives. Things begin to mount, and suddenly you’re snapping at the receptionist or a team member undeservingly. Over-reacting is a signature Clark G move, and is all fun and games when it’s on screen. When you do it to friends, family, and co-workers, however, it’s not so charming.

Movie B-School: Griswolds & Gratitude (Christmas Vacation I North by Northwest Boise

Ellen doesn’t stand for Clark’s over-reactions, and neither will your co-workers. The meaning of the season, after all, is gratitude for the people in your life, and that includes those you work with. Here’s a few scenes where Clark misbehaves, like he’s Chevy Chase or something.

Movie B-School: Griswolds & Gratitude (Christmas Vacation I North by Northwest Boise

What Would Eddie Do?

Cousin Eddie is super annoying. Really, really annoying. We all agree, yes? Good. No one seems to like spending time with Cousin Eddie, except his wife. That said, he kind of can’t help it, and doesn’t fully deserve to take the brunt of Clark’s fits. This is always hard to remember during the holidays when we’re at the edge, but taking a moment to recall that this “pest” is a person with feelings who may be hurt by your over-reaction is important. When you feel it coming, close your eyes, take a breath and picture that person crying, then imagine you made that person cry. Doesn’t feel great, does it? Hold on to that feeling of empathy, and recall it each time they near Cousin Eddie territory.

Movie B-School: Griswolds & Gratitude (Christmas Vacation I North by Northwest Boise

Lights, Camera, Action!

We all work hard and usually have projects or numbers to show for it. Clark worked hard and spent many hours on his home decorations with an ungodly amount of lights, only to find they didn’t light up, rendering this particular fit somewhat acceptable. There are, of course, times during the holidays when something bad will happen that will make you feel wretched. You will want to scream, throw a temper tantrum and be in a Grinch-y mood. People around you will tolerate this, because they care about you, but keeping your cool shows a level of deep maturity that many adults still lack. Keep it together, write in a journal, and go on to live another day. 

Movie B-School: Griswolds & Gratitude (Christmas Vacation I North by Northwest Boise

If you still haven’t figured it out, don’t be a Clark Griswold this season. Having a big freakout, to be blunt, makes you a jerk no matter what. It’s the holidays and everyone’s vulnerable but still ready to love and accept each other as is, which is truly a gift, so who are you to screw that up? It’s pretty simple – be grateful for those around you, show them you care, and don’t over-react or treat people poorly.

Movie B-School: Griswolds & Gratitude (Christmas Vacation I North by Northwest Boise

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About the Author

Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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