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A Christmas Vacation Deleted Scene Explains How The Griswolds Got Their Christmas Tree

There's nothing quite like a good holiday film to get the season going. Everyone has their favorites, but specific titles have attained classic status. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" happens to be one of those films that audiences have laughed about since its release in 1989.

If anything, the film has grown in popularity over the past thirty years. Many add it to their yearly lists of best holiday films. The appeal seemingly comes from a variety of elements, including connections to all too familiar traditions. The attraction towards "Christmas Vacation" is evident by its wide-ranging reach into pop culture; merchandise covers everything from ornaments with the famous station wagon to mugs styled after Wally World's mascot Marty Moose (via /Film). With all that, it's easy to think viewers have seen and heard everything about the holiday classic. That's far from the case, thanks to some behind-the-scenes secrets and deleted scenes. One, in particular, is shedding light on a long-held mystery about one of the film's most notable props.

A deleted scene reveals how they got the tree

Christmas trees are staples of the festive celebration. While it seems easy enough to get one, the Griswolds make it hilarious all the same. Finding that perfect tree in "Christmas Vacation" provides a surprisingly important deleted scene.

Looking for the right tree sends the family to an out-of-the-way location. Once there, Clark (Chevy Chase) takes them on an arduous trek through the snow; the family has one problem — removing the tree without the usual tools. Lacking an explanation, the next shot shows the family station wagon hauling it home, leading to confusion as the tree's roots are firmly intact. So, how did the Griswolds remove it in the first place? The answer lies in what's missing.     

A deleted scene sees the family meeting a less-than-pleasant Christmas tree lot operator. The script describes him as a sour-looking middle-aged man wearing a Santa hat. He is less than friendly towards the family and makes it a point to show them the lot's rules. At the bottom of the list is "Buyer Provides Own Damn Saw." After some friendly persuasion, the lot owner offers up a less-than-helpful shovel, answering the crucial question about how the family removed the tree (via The Daily Script).

Clark offers a hint later in the film

The movie's script does not mention the Griswolds returning to the lot operator or having any additional conversation with the man. Whether or not Clark brought back the shovel remains to be seen, but it is not considered necessary in bringing the scene to a humorous end. The missing details haven't popped up in many conversations with the cast and crew. However, if a viewer listens closely; they may hear an explanation later on in the film. 

In a quick scene where Clark and Eddie (Randy Quaid) are admiring the tree, Clark explains that he dug it out of the ground. Anyone watching this moment without the deleted scene would be excused for thinking this is a joke or an exaggeration. The dialogue is never referenced again, and no other character inquires about its origins. Any further answers remain hidden within the tree itself.

On-screen and off the tree was surrounded by interesting moments

The tree had plenty of memorable moments in the film; an unforgettable scene saw Clark discovering his evergreen decoration had more than a bit of sap. That night, his fingers hilariously stick to every page while skimming through People magazine. Luckily, no actor actually had to contend with the sticky substance. 

Another famous scene involving the beloved prop saw a squirrel wreak havoc. It could have seemed like an easy assignment for the animal hired to do the job. Instead, it took months of training to get it ready for the scene. The day of shooting brought a surprise for all involved as the squirrel in question passed away. With no other trained animals on set to take its place, what viewers end up seeing scampering out of the tree is indeed an untrained squirrel (via PopTonic). Its run throughout the house makes for a frenetic scene that has kept viewers laughing for decades.