Today is a VERY special day. It’s NOVEMBER 1st! Which means the kick-off to Christmas can begin….Woot! Woot! Jingle-holla!
Typically on November 1st, I celebrate with some close friends by watching the ultimate Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation, preceded by my second-fave, Elf. Due to a scheduling conflict (read: me forced to be in TX against my will), our celebration had to be postponed until this Friday. However, today is still a very special day and while I can’t watch Clark Griswold affix twenty-five thousand imported italian twinkling lights to his house until later in the week, I’ll be celebrating in spirit all day. I also plan to listen to Christmas music and enjoy any holiday treats I can locate.
In honor of today, I thought I’d share a special little essay I was asked to write last year. Although I’ve already posted it once, I had to share again because it describes why today is so very important. Turn on some Christmas jingles, grab a glass of egg nog, and enjoy!
What Christmas Vacation Means to Me
Born in December as Stacey Connolly, I quickly realized two things about myself; I share a birth-month with Jesus (ha…..I’m totally getting into heaven) and I have the same initials as Santa Claus.
My memories of growing up in the Connolly household are full of fond, watercolor pictures of Arizona and Saturday mornings at home. I remember my parents blasting musical classics such as Sloop John B and Let me Sleep on It by the Beach Boys and Meatloaf, respectively. I also remember moving to Wyoming and being surprised to find it was not the forested wilderness I expected but a flat, treeless prairie instead.
I recall early viewings of Vacation and European Vacation; the song Holiday Road gives me goose bumps to this very day (I know cause I purposefully listen to it when I need to get excited). That being said, my appreciation for comedies and my admiration for the comedic genius of Chevy Chase sprouted at around age 8. But above all other childhood recollections, the one thing that really stands out in my early years is my father’s zealous and impassioned celebration of Christmas.
My awkward teenage years brought birthdays celebrated by blowing out the candles with Christmas lights twinkling in the background. Billy Squire’s Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You would play right after my family’s loud rendition of Happy Birthday. I learned to drive in empty parking lots next to cut-down Evergreen and Blue Spruce sales. And I received combo-gift after combo-gift from my girlfriends who were banking on my birthday’s proximity to December 25th.
My early associations with Jesus and the big S.C., impressionable teenage years intermixed with holiday décor and music, and my Dad’s celebratory devotion instilled within me a great love and passion for Christmas that I’ve found difficult to match. Its my most anticipated, celebrated, and hap, hap, happiest day of the year.
After this jolly childhood, I found my way off to college. My first visit to Laramie, WY landed me at the Sigma Chi house and I vividly remember the first time I met Sully. We were playing a card game called ‘Trapped’ and we became instant friends. I also met my future spouse and later met Jesse (future BFF and Sully’s future wife). Four years of college, two weddings, and six years of living close-by in Fort Collins have cultivated a pretty strong friendship.
The spouse, a lover of Fletch and Caddyshack but not as impassioned by Christmas as I, has always agreed to watch Christmas Vacation with me (and refuses to watch any other holiday film). Sharing this movie with my spouse while reminiscing over childhood memories of the original Vacation and my Dad’s holiday devotion earned Christmas Vacation a pretty high spot on my “favorite movie” list.
My excitement bubbles over just thinking about the cinematic masterpiece and did so one day while hanging out with the Sullivan’s. Over homebrew and football, Sully and I realized that we shared the same enthusiasm for the film, as well as all other things Christmas. I had met my match when it comes to Christmas cheer….we are, you might say, kindred spirits. (Cue Jesse and Spouse eye-roll).
Well, the discovery of this shared fervor led to excited talks of reindeer, jingle bells, caroling, and naturally, watching Christmas Vacation. Alarmed by the early arrival sugarplums, holly, and ol’ St. Nick, the spouse and Jesse quickly established the “No Christmas until November 1st” rule.
Ever since, on November 1st, the spouse and I jump in our old front-wheel drive sleigh and head on over to Sully’s to watch what has become the most important of Christmas symbols to me, Christmas Vacation. In recent years, we’ve expanded to a double-feature with Elf quickly becoming a group favorite. I now look forward to November 1st with the same anticipation, zeal and excitement that I used to hold only for Christmas.
To me, Christmas Vacation means it’s the second best day of the year and I get to spend it with my best friends. Although the movie is truly an American Classic for reasons far beyond this egocentric narrative, my own appreciation for the film has quadrupled thanks to our now-traditional celebration of November 1st. I think Clark Griswold said it best, “The most enjoying traditions of the season are best enjoyed in the warm embrace of kith and kin.”
Thith movie is a thymbol of the thpirit of the November 1st kick-off to Chrithmath.