I cannot believe I have not watched my video of "The Christmas Story" yet. Ordinarily by this time, I have watched it at least once and often more than once. After having this film recommended to me by my teacher friend Donna, I bought the video and she was so right….she knew I would fall in love with the characters and the story and I did. She knows me well! I had not seen it until about 7 years ago when I bought the video. That’s me— a bit behind the times at all times!
One other reason I love the film is becaues Ralphie, minus his hornrimmed glasses, looks a lot like my youngest grandson!!! I feel like I am watching "A" while I watch Ralphie. I never coveted a Red Ryder BB gun but I know my husband got one and he loved it as much as Ralphie did. I think every boy in the 1940s and 1950s—and perhaps even now…wants a BB gun and every boy might also have heard the warning that "he might shoot his eye out" when he gets one. Moms and Grammas say things like that to boys.
Many episodes of The Christmas Story ring so true to me because I was growing up at the same time as Ralphie was. I wore the same kind of heavy snowsuits as Ralphie’s little brother did…I had the rubber overshoes….I walked to school every day, never got a ride even when it was snowing and blowing. We had to be tough then! Parents did not even start up their cars in bad weather so there was no available rides. We just got bundled up like the proverbial Eskimos and trudged through the unplowed streets to school each day til the snowplow (only one) got around to cleaning up the snow.
I also identified with the episode where Ralphie said the same word(s) he had heard his father use when battling with the balky coal furnace in the basement….his "righteous" Dad reported Ralphie to his wife and the next scene is Ralphie in the bathroom with a bar of Lifebuoy sticking out of his mouth. That was a common disciplinary measure I think—I recall saying S – - t in front of my mother and I wound up with the bar of Camay in my mouth. I can still taste it….I did not want to repeat the punishment so I probably cleaned up my act so as not to get the bar of soap in the mouth again.
The scene in the living room when the boys opened their gifts reminds me of our home on Christmas Eve….my Sis and my cousin Beth and I went bonkers unwrapping the presents when we finally got to do it after the blasted dirty dishes had been done for two hours while our mother and her sisters gabbed and did it all so slowly out in the kitchen.
Ralphie thinking he had not gotten a BB gun reminds me of myself the Christmas my Dad brought in a HUGE wrapped box that was as high as I as at the time (about 9 years old high!) I had been almost dying of anxiety about WHAT was in that box for at least 2- 3 days and I had to endure my Dad’s tall tales about what it was. He was a terrible tease and loved to torment us for days before we could open things. That time as I ripped into the huge box I came across another box…and another…and another..til I got about half way down and found a cellophane stocking filled with Christmas candy. I could not believe my eyes…a stocking with Christmas candy? MY good Daddy only gave me a lousy stocking full of candy? But I sucked it up and bravely thanked him…so lavishly and so fakely that he got his usual silly smirk on his face and advised me to dig a bit deeper into that maze of boxes. So I continued through about 6 more boxes….exactly like the Russian egg nests—-finally I came to a very small, wrapped box in the bottom of the huge one and when I unwrapped it I found a WRISTWATCH just my size! My Dad had taken my mother’s old 1930′s wristwatch into the old KK Lee Jewelrey shop and had it fixed up for me. I was so speechless I cannot remember what I said but I know my Dad’s face was lit up like our Christmas tree. He had pullled a good one on his older daughter and could see how thrilled she was! I was the ONLY kid who had a wristwatch for quite some time. Nobody wore watches except for grownups. When I see Ralphie disappointed by no BB gun til his Dad advises him to take another look behind a piece of furniture, that is me again—–digging deeper into the many boxes on Christmas Eve so long ago….probably about 55-to 60 years back in time.
I also love Ralphie’s and his brothers’ visit to the Department store Santa Claus at the end of an evening when Santa and his "elves" were totally sick of little kids. The kick by Santa Claus down the long slide is hilarious but Ralphie hangs on and spits out his fondest wish…for the Red Ryder BB gun. I got a hilarious e mail forward last week called "Merry Christmas". It featured many pictures of little kids sitting on many Santa’s laps. All of the kids were bawling their heads off and all of them had grotesque open- mouthed screaming faces for the cherished "portraits" for their parents’ Christmas cards. I laughed til I was weak and thought of Ralphie and his little brother at the Santa station in the department store in long ago Indiana.
The story is based on a book by Jean Shepherd and every year when I watch the movie, I tell myself I am going to get the book, but so far, I have not gotten it. Maybe this is the year I will….if I remember after Christmas is over.
Back to the " bakery" to finish making the "nut goodie bars" and the "Pork Pie" (date topped) cookies that my Sis loves so much.
Here is my first wish for the bloggers and blog readers to have a wonderful Christmas!!!!