Dec. 24 Where's the Tylenol?
“We’re kicking off our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.” This sounds like the beginning of a wholesome family Christmas move, right? If you said "yes," you couldn't be farther from the truth, as this is how we start off the most raunchy and fun-filled holiday story the 1980s could have possibly dreamed up.
Merry Christmas Eve, my most thirsty of readers. We only have one more day left on our rum-laced sleigh ride through a very pandemic holiday. We've examined holiday traditions, roots behind songs, and revisited quite a few Christmas movies, but I certainly couldn't finish off our series without talking about that 1989 classic about a clueless yet well-meaning family man who just can't seem to catch a break. His determination to have a "big old fashioned family Christmas" is a true representation of Christmas in the year where none of us can seem to get ahead.
John Hughes first concocted the tale behind Nation Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when he wrote his short story "Christmas '59." The third installment of the Vacation series tells the tale of Clark Griswold, once again played by Chevy Chase. He's the walking stereotype of a middle-class suburban dad who just wants everything to go smoothly for Christmas, while his family is visiting. For those of us who've watched the film, we know this isn't the case.
From the start, everything he touches seems to fall apart. The family drives out to find a Christmas tree, just to forget a saw or ax. They pull the thing out by the roots, and they strap it to the car anyways. Against his family's protests, Clark chooses a tree which is entirely too big for their living room. This is perhaps the most perfect metaphor for the American fetishism of wealth and living beyond our means. For some reason, average guys can't seem to be happy with what they have, as it always needs to be "bigger and better." I'm sure Freud would have something to say about that. Hell, just ask any car salesmen which customers buy the biggest trucks and SUVs.
Anyways, as I was saying, the Griswolds embark on this crazy antic-filled holiday before the grandparents even arrive. Unbeknownst to Clark, they have some unexpected visitors headed their way in the form of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family aboard a run-down RV. It's clear from their first scene, Clark isn't exactly a fan of his less-successful and eccentric family member.
With everything falling apart around him, the one thing which keeps giving Clark hope is a Christmas bonus check, still waiting to arrive. Without consulting with his family, he's made plans to have a surprise pool put in the backyard, but without that bonus check, he can't afford the money he's already shelled out for the deposit. The moment finally comes, when the courier arrives with his package. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a membership to a jelly club, as his employer had done away with bonus check without notifying any of their staff.
This is the moment old hopeful Clark finally loses his mind with a tirade ending in "Hallelujah, holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?" It's at this exact point in the movie, if you hadn't already, you really understand Clark, and you begin to sympathize with this guy who just wanted to give his family everything. We've all been there, especially this year.
A pandemic Christmas is certainly not something anyone ever expected to endure. We are away from family and friends, and many of us have also lost those close to us. If there was ever a year we would could use a big bowl of punch to take the pain away, this would be the one. It just so happens, I made one for that precise reason.
Where's the Tylenol?
750ml Aged Jamaican Rum
6oz Creme de Cacao
5oz Peychaud's Bitters
12oz Coconut Cream
8oz Orange Juice
6oz Lime Juice
24oz Pineapple Juice
12 dashes Cherry Bitters
Mix all ingredients together in a punch bowl, stirring vigorously.
Place in refrigerator for 2 hours minimum.
Ice punch bowl before serving.
Garnish with cherries, pineapple fronds, and freshly grated nutmeg.
*It's a bit of a no-brainer to do a painkiller-inspired punch for this one, and the heavy dose of Peychaud's and chocolate really make it a holiday treat. I will add, just because I published a punch recipe, that doesn't mean we should be having big parties! I know many of you readers out there are more than happy to tackle this recipe between just a few of you.*
Seriously though friends, I can't imagine what you all must be going through this year. I know I'm feeling a bit of a funk myself. I moved home to be closer to my family, and now it's not safe to visit with them. It's quite the pickle. I know my story isn't unique, but i'm so thankful to still be here, doing what I love. If this holiday cocktail series brought one smile to any of you, it's been worth it one hundred percent! We need to keep moving forward, keep bringing joy to each other, keep climbing out of the darkness, and of course, keep shaking.