My holiday traditions differ from many, I work a lot of holidays so I have to be a little flexible. I celebrated Thanksgiving this year by changing oil in my truck and typically ring in the new year by packing something special in my lunch for work. The one Christmas tradition that has followed me from home to work and back is watching 24 hours of “A Christmas Story.”
“A Christmas Story” is a movie based on Jean Shepherd’s novel, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” In the movie, we follow along during the weeks leading up to Parker’ family Christmas. It includes so many memories that are familiar to people who grew up in that era (mid 40′s) but are particularly familiar to those of us in the Midwest. Many of us still maintain the Christmas traditions born decades ago and set aside by other areas of the United States. One of the great traditions is Ralphie writing a letter to Santa with a request for a Red Ryder BB gun. The little boy in this story goes one step further in that he also plants advertising for the BB gun in his mother’s magazine and even writes a theme about what a great gift would be the Red Ryder. I like how the movie includes the mother bundling up the boys to the point they can barely move which I remember from my own childhood. They also show the resilience of holiday traditions when the Parker Christmas dinner is eaten by an invading dogs (the Bumpus Hounds) which forces the Parkers into the only eating place not closed for Christmas, a Chinese restaurant.
I think that’s maybe part what gets me about “A Christmas Story,” the mix of tradition and resilience. There are so many scene’s of what we’ve come to know as Christmas, yet there are the odd few scenes that show some flexibility due to situation. I suppose I see my own situation in those scenes when I am heading for work as everyone else hunkers down on Christmas eve.
I found something new this year about “A Christmas Story.” In 2004, the original house in which the movie was filmed, was purchased by Brian Jones during an Ebay auction for $150,000 then renovated for another $247, 000. A Christmas Story House and Museum (www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com) is located in Cleveland, Ohio and is open year-round. The museum contains photos and props from the movie and has been remodeled to appear exactly as it was in the 1983 feature. Jones also owns the company which produces the leg lamp from the movie which are available in the gift shop along with Red Ryder BB guns, ornaments, clothing and everything else to complete your visit. All of the cast members, with the exception of Darren McGavin-”the old man”, are still alive and sometimes appear at the museum. You can bid on a one night’s stay at the museum for the ultimate nostalgic immersion into the movie’s history.
I hope your Christmas is going well. Enjoy 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” this season. I have to go put my “Christmas Story” puzzle together, it came packaged in a wood box marked “fragile” which, for the uninitiated, is pronounced frah-gee’-lay.