Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tusk Editor's Note: Dec. 7

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tusk Editor's Note: Dec. 7

Article excerpt

You know it's been a wonderful life when "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" starts to look like a sweet little family comedy. After all, the patriarch Clark Griswold really does want the best for his extended family, finding room in his thumpety-thumping heart for evil fathers-in-law, ditzy elders and argument-against- evolution Cousin Eddie. He lights up their world, literally, as crusty Uncle Lewis does with the sewer polluted by Eddie's RV dump. He buys presents for the poor relatives, plans to put in a pool for everyone's enjoyment and chops down the tallest tree for the house, even if things around him do tend to catch fire more often than usual.

And of course he goes just a teeny bit nuts with the ranting, the taunting of the yuppie neighbors and the kidnapping and so forth, but you know, Clark's heart is in the right place.

That's all you can ask for, right?

It's said the road to hell is paved with folks whose hearts were squarely in the center of their chests, so no. Results count. Except in Little League and community theater, where we often applaud efforts regardless of outcome. It's nice. And for some folks, nice is what the season's about.

It's the end of the year, by our calendars, and a metaphoric ending as well, what with the death of things and all. The first of December saw many of us cruising top down in 75-degree weather, but still, the leaves did finally start to turn and fall.

This season brings with it plenty of ways to say howdy to friends and neighbors, reflecting on how things really do speed up as you age, as if we are sailing literally downhill and gaining momentum.

Cousin Eddie: "I don't know if I oughta go sailin' down no hill with nothin' between the ground and my brains but a piece of government plastic."

Clark: "Do you really think it matters, Eddie?"

Riding on The Tuscaloosa News/Kentuck parade float the other night -- I was the goon nearly falling off the front, clutching a microphone stand that itself wasn't nailed down, as Gaines and Line Brake wailed the horns to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" -- I saw many faces I knew, but so many more I didn't know. PARA estimates its West Alabama Christmas Parade attendance at 10,000, but numbers were up this year, possibly because of fair weather. …

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