Thursday, November 22, 2012

Neal or Dell (and Happy Thanksgiving)

I recently asked some friends this question:
Are you a Neal Page or a Dell Griffith?

Any clue what that means?  Not a John Hughes fan?  Or maybe you are one of the very few people who haven't seen Planes, Trains & Automobiles.  Which just happens to be one of my all time favorite movies.  And watching the movie every year is one of my most favorite Thanksgiving traditions. And Neal Page and Dell Griffith are the main characters played by Steve Martin and John Candy.

Last year I wrote about why the movie had such a special  place in my heart.  This year I want to talk about the main characters....break it all down, pretend we're in a cool class in college.  Did you ever take one of those?  I was a communication major and English minor, so I took a lot of those classes.  Those classes where we sat around and tried to figure out what it all meant and how it told the story of our society, our humanity.  One of my all time favorite classes was when I was an exchange student in England and an uber feminist professor analyzed Desperately Seeking Susan and how it exemplified American stereotypes during the late eighties.  Fascinating.

But back to John Hughes, John Candy and Thanksgiving.

Neal Page, played by Steve Martin, is a very stressed, stretched thin character.  He has no patience for the world.  But he loves his family and wants to do right by them.

Dell Griffiths, played brilliantly by John Candy, is the guy who will talk your ear off, listen to your life story, relate and empathize.  He has nothing but patience for the world.  But he's lonely and has no family.

A million years ago, on a plane oddly enough, my brother quoted the movie to me.  He told me I was like John Candy's character a "chatty Cathy doll who pulled my own string" and never had a point, etc. (the Neal quotes)  I quoted the movie right back to him saying "I like me...I was the real article..." (the Dell quotes).

Well, over the years I've grown to appreciate Steve Martin's character more. I've become more Neal and less Dell.  I get the impatience with the world.  I get not having time for everyone's stories.  I relate with feeling the pressure of providing, caring for and being there for my family. I forget to relate with the rest of the world, to be open to other people's experiences and stories.

Who are you?  Neal or Dell?  Or both?  
More importantly, who do you want to be this Thanksgiving?  

I'm going to try to channel my inner Dell, my inner John Candy.  I will be open.  I will be non judgemental.  I will listen.  I will share.

And hopefully, there will be some really awesome synthesized music playing somewhere in the background just like in a truly great John Hughes eighties movie.

I have so much to be grateful for, such as:

Funny, witty children who can find fun in an old leaf pile.
Lucy is telling a story oblivious to the brother mayhem behind her.
Oh now she notices her crazy brothers, but she is so bored with their nutty boy violence. 
Hey wait, she joins in on all the crazy, mayhem fun.
Good friends who get my special kind of crazy.
My family. Okay, this picture below is just the kids, but you get it.  These kids are awesome (most days) and it's what Tim and I live for.  So, Tim and I are not in the pictures.

Not Planes, Trains and Automobiles or Thanksgiving related, but a seriously funny and relatable clip from another one of my favorite movies Easy A (oh if only John Hughes could direct my life):

What are you thankful for?

In case you missed it, here's a video about how my heart grew three sizes just in time for Thanksgiving.  I guess you could say I shook off the Neal and got a little more Dell.

1 comment:

  1. I read this last night and hoped you'd link up. :) The holidays are hard for me....I'm probably more of a Neal in November and December. I definitely am. And I don't like it much. But stretched too thin, I am.