Thoughts on A Christmas Story

Who else has never seen the heartwarming and hilarious movie, A Christmas Story?  I held out until today.  No reason why, just never bothered to watch it.  Last week, a friend loaned me her DVD copy and insisted I make time to watch it.  Thank you, Diane, for the pure pleasure of a family movie on a rainy afternoon.

Set in the 1940s, Ralphie lives in an old-fashioned neighborhood with two-story houses, cute bungalows, big trees in the front yard and a grade school within walking distance.

The perfect family with a dad, mom and two kids.  Mom is a homemaker and cooks a full breakfast before school.  Oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon and a stack of toast with a glass of milk.  I doubt that is done today in any home.  After school, the kids walk home, dad comes home from work, and mom in her full apron serves a full dinner from the stove.

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and cooked purple cabbage.  Have you ever eaten boiled purple cabbage?  I haven’t, but I love cabbage.  It might be good.

Typical of the times, dad is head of the household and mom hops to it when he barks.  I love nostalgia, but I really wanted to smack dad in the back of the head with a frying pan a time or two.

Ralphie is a typical boy and gets into mischief frequently.  When he flipped the car’s hubcap holding the lug nuts and said, “Oh, fuck”, my jaw dropped!  Kids said that in the 1940s?  Really?  The bar of soap he got as punishment was no surprise though.  I remember my own mom doing the same thing to me with a gold bar of Dial soap.  Like Ralphie, I think I am permanently damaged by the soap.  Nasty stuff.

Christmas time was still magic, kids waiting all year to get that one special thing.  In Ralphie’s case, that was the “genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle” better known as a BB gun.  “Kid, you’ll shoot your eye out” was the refrain from every adult in Ralphie’s life, even his teacher, who gave him only a C+ on the theme paper about the Red Ryder.  Poor Ralphie, would he get the gun?

While Ralphie is waiting and wondering, good old dad is beside himself with joy.  He won an award, a great prize from a crossword puzzle contest.  What would it be?  He could hardly wait to find out.  The prize arrived in a huge wooden crate marked FRAGILE.  Much to his delight and his wife’s shame, the prize turned out to be the stockinged leg lamp.  OMG!  It was hideous.  The ugliest lamp ever made, but dad loved it so much he insisted on placing it in the front window in all its glory.  I doubt I could have been as nice as his wife.  That lamp would have gone to the garage in a nanosecond and never seen again.

Christmas Eve arrived, and the boys were sent to bed.  I loved the beautiful blue chenille bedspread on Ralphie’s bed, as well as his mom’s long chenille bathrobe.  Dad’s plaid flannel robe reminded me of one in my own closet right now.

Such pretty, old-style things in this movie.  Clothes, houses, furniture.  I loved them all.  The Christmas tree?  Not so much.  I’m pretty picky about my Christmas trees.

The one thing I appreciate most about now rather than then is electrical service.  Sparks, flames, and blown fuses were often a part of Christmas decorating.  The

old-fashioned fuse boxes couldn’t handle the Christmas lights.  I’m pretty happy with my circuit breakers.

A Christmas Story took me back in time this afternoon to a simpler, softer time where Santa was real and children and parents alike believed.  I found this movie heartwarming and hilarious.

Did Ralphie get the Red Ryder?  You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

I hope your December is filled with good memories of your childhood Christmases and good times both then and now.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on A Christmas Story

  1. My husband thought this was the best Christmas movie ever! He wanted a bee-bee gun when he was a kid. It was true that kids were always told they would shoot their eyes out and that’s why they wouldn’t be getting a bee-bee gun! We laughed so hard remembering how we had to wear so many clothes to go out in the snow that we could hardly walk. And getting his tongue stuck to the pole was another great memory! Good old days!

  2. I’ve loved this movie since I first saw it in my early to mid teens, a few years after it came out. While my own childhood experiences with Christmas don’t map directly onto Ralphie’s, I can still identify with his own Christmas experience: the excitement leading up to The Big Day, staring longingly at the window displays in toy stores, telling Santa what you want for Christmas in a magical recreation of the North Pole in a department store, the care taken to find the perfect tree and then decorate it as a family, dealing with school bullies, the daily struggle to fill your time with things OTHER than thoughts of what Santa might bring, the hope that you’ll get THE BIG GIFT and the corresponding fantasies about what it would be like to actually have it, the disappointment of not getting everything you wanted, and the thrill of getting that perfect gift. To me, A Christmas Story perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be a kid (or at least used to be like) at Christmastime and to me, it’s not Christmas without watching this movie at least once. 🙂

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