Clark Griswold: “Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.”-National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, 1989.

Whether it is Thanksgiving Day or Christmas dinner, the words “they want you to say grace” can strike fear and trepidation in the heart and psyche if one happens to be the chosen one.

Indeed, a daunting task for many-those with stage fright, poor memory, or complete lack of presence of mind when called upon to perform.  That would be me.

Downright scary, in fact.

Thus, I look to the classic movie “Christmas Vacation” and its character Aunt Bethany for guidance in such a challenge.

As for Aunt Bethany, saying grace can be profoundly simple and result in everyone in the room whispering under his or her collective breath, “Gee, I wish I had thought of that.”

But more about Aunt Bethany's unusual prayer in a bit.

First, this advice.

Do not be intimidated and know that, yes, there are those among us when called upon to say grace at important holiday gatherings, are remarkably fluid and gleaming with their words, the preachers and philosophers within each family.  At our gatherings that would be cousin Dorothy.

Purely brilliant, inspirational, witty.


For the rest of us who are not nearly as sparkling with our speech, the best option is to punt.  Merely ask any child in the room to say their table grace instead of you fumbling through yours.  Everyone will love the little guys as they recite their prayers and poems anyway.

Perfect way to catch that Hail Mary saying-grace pass if you do not see it coming.

Now, as promised, let us return to Aunt Bethany's prayer. Although a funny scene in the movie, Aunt Bethany's attempt to say grace is actually visionary. The scene goes like this.

Clark asks Aunt Bethany to say grace, and being hard-of-hearing, she asks, “What dear?”

Clark's mother answers very loudly, “Grace!”

Aunt Bethany: “Grace? Ohhh… She passed away thirty years ago…”

Uncle Lewis (frustrated and straining his face as he mouths the words): “They want you to say Grace… The BLESSING!”

Aunt Bethany says, “Oh.”

Everyone at the table folds their hands in prayer and reverently bows their heads awaiting her prayer.

Aunt Bethany begins, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!”

Clark says, “Amen.”

Now, I realize that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance like Aunt Bethany is not such an eccentric prayer after all, especially in light of the state of the world all these many years after the movie was made in 1989.  Rather, she was prophetic.

I agree with Clark. Amen Aunt Bethany. Good call.