“You serious, Clark?”
Uncle Eddie’s famous words ring throughout the Royster household on the night of Thanksgiving. The turkey has been demolished, the football game is over (much to my Grandpa’s dismay) , and we all sit in the living room with platefuls of pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream, turned towards the TV. I am nine years old, droopy-eyed and in a sugar cookie coma on the floor with my cousins. It’s chilly outside, but the fireplace is crackling and there is no shortage of fuzzy blankets. The adults all laugh from the couch, and even though I’m not old enough to get the joke yet, I laugh too. It comes easy when one finds themselves in a room surrounded by people they love. All is calm, all is bright.
From the earliest I can remember, my family has been quoting National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Through the years, watching the movie has become an essential holiday tradition of ours, always on Thanksgiving to put us in a jolly mood. Why not Home Alone, you ask? Or maybe A Christmas Story? I think on some level, we all relate to the Griswolds. No, we don’t set fire to our Christmas trees, gift each other cats in wrapped boxes, or kidnap our bosses, yet I see so much of my father in Clark Griswold’s enthusiasm and cheer. And I, being the token teenager of the clan, have come to deeply appreciate Audrey’s eye rolls and witty one-liners. One of my favorite things about Christmas Vacation though, is that it reminds me that family will always come first, regardless of the different paths life leads me on.
I haven’t seen that movie in years. I’ve noticed that as I grow up, my traditions have changed so drastically from how I remember them. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the spirit of the holidays has gone with it.
For example, I’ve always been an avid reader. On December nights as a kid, I would sit inside and read, nestled up on the couch with my cat and some hot cocoa. But when I got into high school, softball practice and theatre rehearsals and life consumed so much of my evening that by the time I got home, my eyes couldn’t even focus on a page. So instead, I started gift-wrapping books at Barnes and Noble on my free days to help raise money for my theatre group. Sure, it was different than what I was used to, but I was still surrounded by my favorite things; books and all-things-Christmas. It helped me realize why the end of the year is nicknamed “the season of giving”. It felt so amazing to transform one of my passions into something that helped others. Plus, I learned a thing or two about curling ribbon.
I know that as I meet new people and venture to new places, my traditions will continue to change. I now prefer pumpkin spice over cocoa and Hemingway over Harry Potter, but I feel no guilt in letting the old things go as long as I hold onto the joy that they gave me, and find it in something new. That reigns true for any holiday, any family, and any season of life.
But tonight, I am home. My decorations are up, my sweets are within arms reach, and I think I’ll pop Christmas Vacation into the DVD player. Just for old time’s sake.
Abigail Royster is a freshman attending College of the Canyons. She is currently majoring in English with a concentration on Pre-Law Studies, and plans to transfer to a UC school to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree. Royster excels in creative writing, which has helped her greatly in her extracurricular activities. In the past year, she has been involved in theatre arts, and served as Editor in Chief of her senior yearbook. These have inspired her to develop her passion for networking and managing. Royster enjoys being involved in her campus community , and is excited to use her exuberant personality and leadership skills to make connections with her peers.