The comic mishaps and adventures of a young boy named Ralph, trying to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift for the 1940s.
Okay, I know this isn’t a perfect movie, perhaps not close to it. We just watched it again and I teasingly pointed out small plot or action gaffes here or there. But for me it is my all time favorite Christmas movie. Partly I suppose because it feeds into my memories of growing up in a snowy, cold small town, though this predates my childhood by several years. And rarely do I feel like an ensemble cast made up of both adult and child actors do so well together. The Parkers, husband and wife, have their duel over the “major award,” and at times their sensibilities reside on different planets: his love of sports and her submersion into the details of raising children, but they are a unit and comically in love. And I even think part of the charm for me is the voice of the narrator. Adult Ralphie is of course Jean Shepherd, one of the screenwriters and the author of the source book “In God we Trust; All Others Pay Cash, a book I once owned in paperback. For years I listened to his radio show, late at night, my ears glued to a small transistor radio. He spoke in a hushed, dramatic voice about his childhood and other stories. I remember once he intoned about a magic place called “Maine,” where his father hunted or wanted to hunt. Of course I lived in Maine so it was a sort of revelation to hear it was a special place. (And it is.) So A Christmas Story ticks all of the boxes for me in nostalgia and humor and covers the major elements of Christmas for kids, all achieved without the Christmas miracle a lot of holiday films trot out at the end.