Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"A Christmas Story" (The Movie Version)

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

My own personal Christmas Eve ritual involves watching the movie A Christmas Story at least once, during Turner Classic Movies Christmas Story marathon. My husband loves the movie as much as I do, and we usually watch it together. We laugh and cry and say the lines along with the characters. We let our daughter make fun of us being such dorks, and we make fun of ourselves, too.

What is it about that movie that I love so? Quite simply: it is a movie about my childhood. The setting of the movie is a decade or two earlier than my own childhood, but my experience of the world as a kid was almost exactly the same as the one portrayed in the movie.

My mother was a homemaker whose sole purpose in life was to provide for our physical care and feeding; she ruled the house with an iron hand. When she washed my mouth out with soap, she said, "Bite down!" Dad was a sort of curmudgeonly but loving father with a salty vocabulary, who got carried away occasionally by projects that often didn't pan out. He was a decent provider, a good father, a wonderful husband and a good person. Our tiny household was a haven from the uncertainty and violence of the world in the Sixties. Every time I watch A Christmas Story I can step right into Ralphie's skin -- and back into my own childhood.

I'm not one of those who would turn back the clock and try to recreate that world. It's gone forever and, besides, I'm not about to give up my fast Internet connection, cell phone, GPS and cars with automatic transmission and A/C. What is more, I acknowledge that the world then had a dark side that was as evil and cruel as the world we live in today -- or the one that existed 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire. One of the things I like about the story is that it does not deny the badness and scariness of the outside world. There is a Darkness in the world against which the Light of Christmas shines as a miracle..., but A Christmas Story isn't about those "big" themes.

It's a small story about the sweet boredom that exists in the security of the family unit, where parents love each other and look out for their kids, and where kids can trust in their parents' love for them, even when they misbehave.

A Christmas Story is about a real Holy Family.



  1. Every year they play "A Christmas Story" for 24 hours, and I'm sure we'll be turning it on in just a short while. It's a holiday tradition! Best Christmas movie ever!

  2. 8:00 PM Eastern: the first of 24 hours of "A Christmas Story". Yay!