Celebrate the silver anniversary of the holiday classic by reflecting on the wisdom it has imparted to us about Christmas, squirrels and more

By Drew Mackie
Updated December 01, 2014 11:05 AM
Credit: Warner Brothers

If you can believe it, Clark Griswold has been getting attacked by enraged squirrels for 25 years. It may be even harder to believe that this third Vacation movie opened to mediocre reviews on Dec. 1, 1989, because it’s become mandatory holiday viewing for millions of ’80s babies.

But more than laughs at the expense of Chevy Chase’s sad-sack character, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has imparted dozens of bits of wisdom to its fans over the years. Here’s a collection of what we can learn from it.

1. It never, never pays to be an angry driver – and all the more so during the holidays.

2. Blue lips are a sign of hypothermia. (Berets, however, are just a sign of Juliette Lewis’s kicky late-’80s fashion sense.)

3. When you find the right tree, you’ll just know.

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4. Yet, you cannot underestimate the importance of checking that your Christmas tree is the right size for your living room.

5. Yuppies are evil (but then again, most ’80s movies also taught us this life lesson).

6. Everyone feels holiday stress and copes with it in his or her own way. Beverly D’Angelo’s character Ellen put it best when she said, “I don’t know what to say except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.” Find comfort in that.

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7. Watch your tongue around attractive salesclerks.

8. Elegantly orchestrated Christmas lights are one of the greatest, purest joys that a homeowner can hope to experience.

9. However, there’s something to be said for restraint when it comes to decorating.

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10. The holidays make for a handy time to remind us all that we should love our family members, however different they may be.

11. Wax your sled at your own risk.

12. Done in by holiday stress? An active fantasy life can provide escape! Bing Crosby’s cover of “Mele Kalikimaka” makes a good soundtrack for that.

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13. Shaking wrapped gifts may prove harmful for the contents inside.

14. Don’t be like Cousin Catherine. Don’t put the turkey in too early.

15. Respect your elders. They may behave oddly sometimes, but just go with it. They’ve been around long enough that you don’t need to correct them.

16. Decked halls create certain dangers for pets. Pet-proof the house if you have visiting animals.

17. Regardless of what Clark thinks, the Jelly of the Month Club really is the gift that keeps on giving.

18. You are entitled to one good holiday meltdown. (NSFW language warning on this one, but it’s about Clark’s boss, so you know he has it coming.)

19. Artificial trees have a few advantages over those grown in the wild.

20. In the end, evil yuppies always get what’s coming to them.

21. Unless the SWAT team is showing up and raiding the house, you could be having a worse Christmas. Don’t forget that.

22. Smoking is dangerous. And every holiday celebration should end with The National Anthem.

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23. No matter what happens this year, it will be okay in the end. Trust in Cousin Eddie.

24. Eggnog tastes even better when it comes from a Wally World moose mug. (And yes, this is an item you can actually buy.)

25. More live-action films need animated opening credits. This trend had a moment in the late ’80s with Christmas Vacation and Troop Beverly Hills. Now? Nada. Bring it back, Hollywood.

Here’s to another month of Christmas Vacation running in perpetuity on cable.

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