Do you ever find yourself thirty minutes into a movie before realizing you’ve already seen it? I almost never intentionally watch a movie more than once, with the exception of Christmas movies. So, for my Christmas blog series this year, I’ll tell you about the movies I and my family watch nearly every year.
A movie set in the 1940s was released in 1983 to little attention in theatres. Over the years, however, A Christmas Story starring Peter Bilingsley as young Ralphie Parker has became one of the most played films on television. In 1997, Turner Network Television began airing a 24-hour marathon dubbed “24 Hours of A Christmas Story.” They ran the film twelve consecutive times beginning at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve and ending Christmas Day. (We are not THAT fond of it.)
We were first introduced to this movie around 2005 by our adult children. It seemed odd that they loved it, given that the setting dated back to before even my birth. But to them, it’s a classic. Its Canadian connections add to the appeal. While the story is set in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana, many of the scenes were shot in Toronto. Watching my kids enjoy something usually pulls me in, too. Somewhere along the line we acquired the DVD with special features like interactive trivia quizzes about the show and interviews with the now adult child actors. Today, you can tour the house in Cleveland, Ohio that provided the home’s exterior shots in the movie. Later, the owner remodelled it to look like the movie set’s interior and opened it to the public.
The charm of the film is the narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker, reminiscing about the Christmas he was nine. The narrator is Jean Shepherd, the author of the stories on which the movie is based. His 1966 book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, is a collection of semi-fictional anecdotes from his childhood.
In the movie, Ralphie wants only one gift for Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is shot down by his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Riddled with hilarious and memorable scenes, I can see why this movie became such an icon. Who could ever forget the kid who sticks his tongue to a flagpole on a double-dog dare, the terrifying visit to Santa, Ralphie in the despised pink bunny suit, the secret decoder pin, the old man’s major prize of a leg lamp, or the hilarious scene near the end in the Chinese restaurant?
The tenderness of this movie comes in the form of an unexpected present from Ralphie’s father. We see Ralphie snuggled in bed on Christmas night with his gift by his side, while adult Ralphie says this was the best present he had ever or would ever receive.
Who among us doesn’t long for an expression of love from a caring father?
Our heavenly Father gave us the best gift we have ever or will ever receive. The first Christmas present wasn’t purchased at a store or placed under a tree. It was a little baby who grew to become our Saviour—a gift of love and life and peace and hope and restoration. He is the perfect gift. May you find him this Christmas.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)