Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things, Part Four: A Christmas Story

It was a Thanksgiving Day in the early 1990s. Our family had left the Turkey Day feasts of my extended family and had arrived at the lodge at Unicoi State Park just outside the faux Alpine village of Helen, Georgia. We checked into the lodge and ate a nice supper of hot dogs from a Circle K, which was the only place we could find open.

We settled in to watch the lighting of the Rich’s Christmas tree on television. It had been a long day and soon everybody but me was asleep.

I wanted to watch some television. As I engaged in that manly pursuit of channel surfing, a movie caught my eye. I had never seen it before. It was about a little boy’s pursuit of his ideal Christmas present: a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time,” as the boy described it. I struggled to suppress my laughter, not wanting to awaken my family. The next day I told Debra that she just had to see this film.

It was called A Christmas Story. The movie is based on the writings of humorist Jean Shepherd. It has really caught on since those days. The cable channel TBS has an annual twenty-four marathon airing of it. Just about everybody I know has seen it at least once.

The boy who wants the air rifle is named Ralphie Parker. Ralphie tries everything to let it be known how much he wants that rifle for Christmas. But everyone—his mother, his teacher, even the department store Santa Claus—tells him, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

The movie, which, as one writer said, has no discernible plot, moves from one vignette to another, some of which happen in “real life” and some of which occur in Ralphie’s fantasies. Among those vignettes are such classic scenes as Ralphie’s brother Randy eating like “Mommie’s little piggie,” Ralphie fighting off Black Bart’s gang, Ralphie’s friend Flick sticking his tongue to a frozen flag pole, Mr. Parker’s “major award,” the consequences of Ralphie saying “Oh, fudge,” the “Scott Farkus Affair” (as it came to be known), and Chinese turkey.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

The tradition at our house is to watch A Christmas Story on December 23. It’s one of our favorite Christmas movies.

Now, some would point out that there is nothing of the true meaning of Christmas in this Christmas film. It is true that there is nothing here of the inbreaking of God into this world through the coming of the Christ child. There is much here, though, of the wonder of Christmas and of the joy of family. Such are universal blessings and they are to be celebrated as such.

So lighten up, mellow out, and have a good time with this fun movie.

The Ruffins do—every December 23rd!

1 comment:

Bill said...

I've always considered this to be director Bob Clark's penance for making "Porky's." Thankfully in his later years he was involved in more family-friendly fare.

Clark and one of his sons were tragically killed in a car accident a couple of years ago.