Uncle Clark, are you sure you ain’t Santa Claus?

aaaah, the holidays….

You might remember my post from two years ago (has it been THAT long?) about my favorite Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation.

Last night we fired up the DVD and watched it again for the gazillionth time.

It just never gets old.

The squirrel in the tree. The fried cat. The lime jello mold with cat food accents. The part when Clark has a ladder mishap while installing the “exterior illumination”.


It brings to mind a magical moment I had as a kid.

Years ago, when we lived in the infamous “blue house” my Dad did a Clark Griswold of his own. One year he decided to climb up on the roof in the middle of the night and do his best interpretation of Santa and his “eight tiny reindeer”.

“And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.”

My Mom woke up my brother and me to the sounds of various gardening equipment tapping on the roof, and my Dad’s oh so accurate depiction of Santa getting ready to come down the chimney.

Let me tell you, as a kid it sounded JUST LIKE Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, & Blitzen.

Well, until the HO HO HO’s turned into quite a clamor…
you see, my Dad (sorry, SANTA) was just about falling off the roof.

I don’t remember my Mom being concerned, but I do remember her giggling. My Dad didn’t know it then, but he was channeling Clark Griswold for sure. In fact, I bet if I looked out the wrong window, he would have been hanging upside down, tethered to the roof only by a stubborn gutter and a heavy-duty string of lights wrapped around his ankle.

We had dozens of stories like that when I was a kid. I am sure that the Griswolds were loosely based on my family.

Clark as my Dad, Ellen as my Mom, Rusty as my little brother, and me, Audrey. Come to think of it, we even looked like them.

Pic: Warner Bros. Pictures


This is a photo of my Grandfather. I inherited this photo from my Grandmother after she died. It doesn’t have a date on it, but my Mom and I suspect that it probably dates to around 1942. He was in the Navy at the time, during WWII, while my Grandmother was home with my newly born Aunt.

My Grandfather was a cook on a Navy ship. Which seems insane considering that was the ONLY place he ever cooked in his life. At home, after the war, he did not even boil water. He left all the cooking up to my Grandmother. In fact, he seemed not to like food very much. When we lived with my grandparents for a short time in the 70’s we learned that each day of the week signified a certain entree, and that menu never varied. So if you weren’t up for creamed corned-beef on Saturdays, you were out of luck.

You can’t see it in this photo, but he was a red-head. First generation Irishman pursuing the American Dream. When the war was over he was a butcher, and in later years he started a construction company with my Dad. They specialized in septics at first, because, as my Grandfather would say, “Everyone has to eat, and everyone has to sh!t.

Yes, a simple man indeed.

This photo is how I remember my PopPop. This picture of him and Gram was from the mid 70’s, and hung on Gram’s wall for 25 years. Nothing had changed much back then. The business was bigger, but he still ate hot dogs on Fridays. As a kid, I remember fondly riding along with him on errands in his beige pickup truck. It had a “pleather” bench seat, and he would drive down our street and make sharp turns which made me slide back and forth across the seat. I would giggle with wild abandon, pretending I was on a carnival ride.

PopPop was fun, and how he loved being a grandfather.

And then, suddenly in the middle of the night on a cold December evening in 1976, he had a massive heart attack. He died alone watching the 11pm news on TV. He was 61.

I was 8 years old at the time, but I remember the sadness on my Mom and Gram’s faces for months. Things like that are hard to erase. My Grandmother was only 57 years old when he died. She didn’t know it then, but she would live a lifetime without him.

My grandfather’s name was David.

The name I passed on to my son.

Looking at these pictures, I see David in both of them. And when he giggles he reminds me so much of my own childhood, filled with laughter and dreams to come.

In many ways, I still feel like that 8 year old. There is still so much excitement that awaits. How the world has changed since 1976… I often wonder what PopPop would think of everything that came after him.

He was right about the eating and **** thing though. And because of his visionary thinking, the construction company is still alive and well.

Somewhere in the heavens he is looking down with Gram in his arms, shaking his finger and smiling… “told you so!”

Days Go By

I can feel ’em flyin’
Like a hand out the window in the wind.

Let’s take a ride into the wayback machine…14 years ago…

S. and I were engaged and just bought our first home together… a quiet condo nestled in green trees. It was brand new. We picked the decor, signed our first mortgage, and made that little place our own.

It was small (2 bedrooms, 2 baths, probably about 1,000 sq. ft.) but it was ours. S. moved in in October of 1994, we married in February 1995, and I arrived with my cat Luke to start our life. We welcomed our first and only dog, Teddi that same year, and the four of us lived comfortably until we built our present home in 2000.

We sold our beloved condo to my brother-in-law, and he sold it a couple years later as well. Lord knows how many people have moved in since, but HOW FUNNY was it when I spotted an ad in the paper last weekend….

it is for sale again!

It is so bizarre to see pictures of the inside! It looks different from even when my brother-in-law owned it. To think we occupied such a small space, and to think David wasn’t even imagined yet in our lives…

Crazy memories of how fast time flies…

S. and Teddi 1996