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A Christmas Story (12/22/08)

I introduced the kids today to the pleasures of A Christmas Story, wherein Ralphie devises various methods to get his parents on board with his Christmas dream of a Red Ryder BB gun (“You don’t want one of those–you’ll shoot your eye out with that thing!” “Nah–I was just kidding. I think I’d just rather have some Tinkertoys.”)

They loved it, especially Lawson, who obtained an education in such things as triple dog dares, the taste of Palmolive vs. Life Buoy according to Ralphie, and the beauty of a ‘major award.’ I had to issue a warning at various intervals: “Now, Lawson, you know we don’t stick our tongues on anything metal when it’s really cold outside. Well, not ever, really…but especially not when it’s cold…” and “That’s why we never point a bb gun at anyone wearing spectacles…” Autumn giggled as the adult Ralphie narrator explained how every family has one child that never eats…this was, of course, his kid brother, who hadn’t eaten voluntarily for three full years. When she and Lawson turn picky, I have a feeling that all I’ll have to say from here on out are “there are starving children in China” or “come on…be mommy’s little piggie…” and results will be seen.

Watching this movie from the perspective of an adult, and more particularly a parent, really got me thinking. One of the things that Ralphie says early on (I quote loosely) is that “Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.” I remember those days of being so caught up in The Toy of the Year. Once it was the Cabbage Patch Doll. Once it was the Barbie Dream House. The Barbie Corvette. A stereo, when I got older. I remember commandeering the JCPenney Wishbook from my three brothers, flipping through the pages and making my list, then making it again until I had it Just Right. Then I’d recopy it, in case Santa had any trouble reading anything. (After all, I’d gotten a C in penmanship in the third grade. I certainly didn’t want that blowing anything.) I was a touch OCD.

If something seemed a little out of reach, and it frequently did, because my family was not one of wealth and privilege, I invested, as Ralphie did, in fantasies and simulations that would help me gain that Toy of the Year. I’m quite certain that I was not alone in this endeavor.

I’m so proud of my own children for not being quite so blatantly single-minded in intent…while certainly very preoccupied with their lists and pondering of their Toy of the Year and what all will appear under the tree Christmas morning, they are happily very concerned with each other, as well. Autumn took over the task today of placing gifts under the tree from her and Lawson to each other and us, as well as some handmade things for their cousins. I love that despite their age, they are valuing the importance of the holy gift given them by giving to others.

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