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Trick question: what time is A Christmas Story on?

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader


As the Christmas season descends across the country, there’s one thing that’s certain – from Christmas Eve night to 24 hours later on Christmas day, either TNT or TBS will devote an entire programming day to airing the movie A Christmas Story (1983).

I’m sure you know the story; Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) is growing up somewhere in northern Indiana (rumored to be Hammond) in the 1940s. It’s getting close to Christmas and all Ralphie wants is an “Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.” The movie largely focuses on Ralphie trying to coax his parents into buying one for him, his mother thinks if he gets one that he’ll shoot out an eye, while fantasizing about the rifle, dealing with his friends Flick and Schwartz and trying to avoid school bullies Grover Dill and Scut Farkus.

The basis of A Christmas story came from author/radio host/actor Jean Shepherd’s short story “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” Shepherd, a Hoosier, would also write the screenplay for the movie, be the voice of the adult Ralphie and have a bit acting part as well.

To say that A Christmas Story is widely considered THE classic Christmas movie of my generation (born in the mid-1970s) is an understatement. Forget White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol. I can almost guarantee you that we’ve all seen A Christmas Story.

We can quote the movie line for line (“Flick says he saw some grizzly bears near Pulaski's candy store!”) and describe the movie scene for scene (my favorite, the fight scene where Ralphie spews out one fake curse word after another.)

Most people don’t realize that there were two sequels to A Christmas Story and until I began researching this article, I was only aware of one. The first, which I haven’t seen, is entitled Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss (1988) and (apparently) featured a teenage Ralphie (Jerry O'Connell), Flick and Schwartz with the story focusing on their job moving furniture and the family’s annual summer vacation. (Via Wikipedia.) The second sequel, which goes back to the time of the original, takes place the summer after A Christmas Story and was entitled It Runs in the Family (1994).

In this movie, Ralphie (Kieran Culkin) is consumed with top fever (those things that spin on the ground), takes a trip to the World’s Fair in Chicago and goes on a fishing trip with his father. It Runs in the Family lacks the charm of A Christmas Story, which is odd, since both were written and directed by the same people, Jean Shepherd and Bob Clark respectively.

What I’m going to say next might shock you, but remember this: I am an ardent fan/lover of A Christmas Story. The following words I write represent no ill will towards that movie or anyone involved in it.

My only wish is for TNT or TBS to STOP devoting an entire day to A Christmas Story. Sure, it’s nice to know when and where it’s going to turn up on the television dial, but an entire day?

I don’t want that for A Christmas Story. I want to be surprised and excited when I just happen to catch the movie airing sometime around Christmas. And I don’t feel that when I KNOW exactly when and where A Christmas Story is going to air.

I think a little distance will make my heart grow even fonder for A Christmas Story. That’s what this movie needs, a little distance.

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