The Mystery Picture on the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation DVD Cover

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has an odd picture on its DVD cover: a picture of a scene that seemingly nobody has ever heard of.

I’ll set the scene for you. I was invited round my friends Jane’s house for Christmas cocktails and Christmas films. On the day I realised that I had forgotten to bring any promised DVDs with me. Thus, I dropped into a local supermarket to pick up some cheap DVDs, so I didn’t look like I’d forgotten.

I picked three films in the end: Miracle On 34th Street (double feature with 1947 & 1994 versions), Nativity (never seen) and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Jane hadn’t seen Christmas Vacation, so we popped that in the DVD player.

I had a look at the cover, as it was different to the cover I had at home. Then I saw it – a picture of a scene I had never seen before.

The picture in question showed the Griswold family, looking at a man on a sun lounger, dressed in a Santa Claus jacket and hat. So what is this missing scene and why is it on the cover?

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The internet seemed the best bet to find the answer. The first potential answer was the different releases of the film. Were there any special features that included cut scenes?

The special edition seemed the best bet… but nothing was found on there. Then I found a ultimate edition of the film, but again nothing. I mean you do get a Christmas hat, drink coasters, fake snow, and a miniature Walley World moose head eggnog glass, but no cut scenes.

Watch Christmas Vacation on Amazon Prime

Has anyone asked the question before? Well, turns out someone on Reddit had. Alas the only two responses were “And the award for most obscure goes to….” And ‘”A lesson yet to be learned by all the ‘extras’ on DVDs. Deleted scenes are deleted for a reason.”

Basically not helpful. But a bit more searching and I found the screenplay to the movie. I assume it’s the real thing (never can be too sure on the web) but I found the cut scene. And the mystery was duly solved.

The film as it stands has the Christmas tree moment straight after the road scene where the family car ends up under the truck. They drive out of there quickly and are faced with a snow plough, so end up flying through the air until they hit a sign saying ‘Christmas Trees’. It then cuts to the family walking through the snow; they find the Griswolds’ family Christmas tree and they realize they haven’t got a saw. Then you see the tree tied to the car with its roots attached.

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I did always think ‘how did they get the tree out of the ground? Did they use their hands?’

Anyway, there was a whole scene where Clark asks the tree seller for a saw. There is a conversation between them; they don’t supply saws, but give Clark a spade.

Granted, it’s not an epic scene, they were probably right leaving it on the cutting room floor. There are a few other scenes that were cut, too: Clark covered in Christmas tree pine needles, the family praying and confessing things while driving under the lorry, the family hand making decorations, the opening of the advent calendar by different members of the family, and the grandparents trying to buy Rusty an air rifle.

It’s nothing new of course. Footage is used in trailers that doesn’t end up in the finished film. Even Star Wars: Rogue One had missing footage that appeared in many of the trailers. But I doubt the unused footage will end up on the DVD cover.

It’s a shame we won’t see the scenes; I assume Warner Brothers don’t even have these available anymore. But the question of why the image of the Christmas tree seller appeared on the DVD cover will be a question lost in time. I did email Warner Brothers, but I await a reply…

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