Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Happy Boxing Day

On Christmas Eve, somewhere between putting tinsel on the tree (this was my major, last-minute shopping run for the year) and baking a cheesecake for Christmas dessert, we hooked up the VCR–remember those, kids? We still have one, and it still kind of works!–and watched a couple of holiday classics, including A Christmas Story.

I remember seeing Siskel & Ebert review A Christmas Story back when it came out, and remember thinking, “I’ve got to see this film.” As it turns out, I didn’t see it for many years, but when I did, I loved it. The film itself performed moderately well, though it was not the holiday blockbuster the producers no doubt hoped it would be. It became a cult classic of the video era, and now is so big that you can’t even call it a cult classic anymore.

We tried to get our kids to watch this movie when they were younger. Neither of them liked it very much, and I wondered why. In hindsight, however, A Christmas Story is a good example of the fact that having a child as protagonist does not automatically make a movie, book or TV show something for kids. While the movie is peppered with funny bits that kids can no doubt enjoy, I think this film is funnier the further away from childhood you are.  As an adult, it’s easy to look at kids and say, “You got it easy. Wait until you’re holding down a job, and paying a mortgage, and raising a kid!” What we forget is how intense everything is for a kid. Everything–what we love, hate, fear–is magnified because our emotions are unfiltered by time and experience. The wonderful innocence of childhood comes with a downside: everything is The Most Important Thing Ever, at the time of the experience. A Christmas Story captures that brilliantly.

We had a nice Christmas here, though it was definitely strange not having the Magpie around. She and five friends went on a little overnight excursion for Christmas which took the sting out of being 7,000 miles away from home for the holiday. Of course, through the magic of technology we were able to see her face and talk to her, and for that we are grateful.

That’s all for me for now, have a nice weekend, all.

6 Responses

  1. I never liked "A Christmas Story." I always thought TBS was nuts showing that movie back-to-back like they used to (or maybe still do) every Christmas.

    As for a VCR… There's still one hooked up to the television in our bedroom, but will most likely go bye-bye in the near future (like when we replace that analog set with a HD flat-screen). We still have some VCR tapes of family events that should probably get transferred to DVDs. Then maybe we'll watch those some day! 🙂

  2. I never liked A Christmas Story either though I think I'm about the only person in my acquaintance who doesn't. We do have two VCRs that still work. Small TVs though, so the grandkids can't get into them. Glad you had a nice Christmas. We got to talk to the kids in China and Hawaii.

  3. Never seen that film. We do still have a VCR in the cupboard and tapes under the bed but don't know when they were last used. Hope you had a great Christmas!

  4. Interesting to find so many people who don't like the film–and who still have VCRs! And I agree, Stacy–the idea that a TV station is going to show one movie over and over again for 24 hours tells me that we have far too many TV stations and far too little originality. Thanks, all!

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