Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Movie Marathon Day 16

           I'm trying something different to get in the holiday spirit this year. Every day, from now through Christmas, I will be watching a different Christmas movie or television special. I have compiled the list of features ahead of time and am drawing one, at random, from my Christmas stocking everyday to determine what gets watched. Thank you for joining me in this endeavor. I really wonder if anyone is even reading these introductions anymore. Whatever, what is day sixteen's feature?

A Christmas Story (1983)

           Long before this was played 24 hours a day every Christmas Eve on TBS, this film was a staple of my family's holiday season. Family legend holds that, one Christmas Eve, my mom was waiting up to make sure that my brother and I were asleep so that Santa could make his visit. Not an easy feat, as I was a particularly light and unwilling sleeper on most of my childhood Christmas Eves. While waiting she was looking for something to watch and stumbled upon this film on whichever cable movie channel we had at that time. Although she was originally just looking for something to pass the time, she was soon engrossed in the movie. In the Christmases that followed that year, my whole family would watch it on VHS. To this day, we have the TBS marathon on as background noise to our Christmas revelry.


           A Christmas Story is more a series of vignettes rather than a full blow story. It is told from the perspective of an adult Ralphie looking back on his nine year old Christmas in roughly 1940. The only plot thread that runs the whole way through the movie is Ralphie's quest to get the one thing he truly wants for Christmas, a Red Ryder 200 shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time. Short of that, the movie is more about the comedy drawn from the quiet family moments in the lead up to Christmas. While I can't speak with certainty to the current generation, I would hazard a guess that pretty much anyone watching this will see shades of their own family in it.
           In regards to the one ongoing plot thread, we are introduced to it at the start of the movie as we find Ralphie looking at the Red Ryder air rifle longingly in the window of a local department store. His quest to secure it takes many tracks. He hides an advertisement for it in one of his mom's magazines. He tells his mom directly. He writes his Christmas theme on it in school. And, he asks the department store Santa for it. All of these attempts are thwarted and he is met with the common refrain, “you'll shoot your eye out”.
           Discouraged, Christmas comes and it seems as though Ralphie won't receive the Red Ryder air rifle. However, just when all hope seems lost, Ralphie's dad points out another package behind the desk. Ralphie opens it up and does indeed find the object of his desire. Ironically, upon its first use a ricochet does hit him in his glasses. Regardless, ending narration informs us that it was the greatest gift he had ever, or would ever, receive.

"Okay Black Bart, now you get yours."

Final Thoughts

           I am certain that I lack any kind of objectivity on this film. It has simply been a part of my holiday festivities for so long that I can not imagine one without it. As stated earlier, I see so many parallels to my own family in this that I can't help but love it. Whether it is Ralphie's brother Randy hiding in the cabinets when he is afraid of what their father will do when he finds out Ralphie was in a fight or his mother shielding Raphie from that very same potential punishment. Or Ralphie's father becoming something of a kid himself simply because it is Christmas. The things that remind me of my own family are far too numerous. I am glad that my excitement over Christmas forced my mom to stay up as late as she did that Christmas Eve all those years ago. It has given my family one of our longest running Christmas traditions and introduced me to a film that will always make me think fondly of them. While you might not get as much out of it as I do and I could understand at this point in time if you feel that this movie is being overplayed, if you can get distance and give this film an honest try I am confident that you will find something to like about it. That is all for day 16. Join me again tomorrow, I triple dog dare you.

Breach of etiquette, I know.

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