_ It’s Christmas Time. Hear the songs. Hear the bells. Hear the oven door opening and closing. And nothing makes the Christmas season warm and bright like the constant sound of Randy moaning about eating his “beat loaf” or Ralphie telling Flick he’s “gotta go because the bell rang.” The “Christmas Story” wraps up all of the things the holiday promises and then smacks you with the reality of life. Sure you want a Red Rider BB gun but it’s going to disappoint you.
As a family we always quote lines from the movie. When there’s no chocolate syrup left, we accuse each other of using up all the syrup “on purpose.” We love to mumble “not-a-finger” like Ralphie’s dad or declare, “you’ll shoot your eye out” when someone is doing something questionably dangerous.
This Fall I took a trip with my mother to the Christmas Story house in Cleveland, Ohio. The magic of movies doesn’t give the viewer an inkling of what’s really going on in Ralphie’s neighborhood. We arrived in the late afternoon on a narrow street crowded with parked cars. Luckily, the nice woman who lives next door to the Christmas Story house sells parking spots in her yard. It’s very convenient because the house is about two yards away. The best thing about the area is the entertainment and it’s free. A bar sits diagonally from the famous house and the drunken patrons stand outside to talk loudly and yell. We waited in line with a group that consisted of a couple from Kansas City and the Sons of Anarchy. Okay I know the Sons of Anarchy are fictional but they did appear to be a motorcycle gang.
The gang however did know their Christmas Story and like everyone they were awed to see the leg lamp in the window, the Lifeboy soap in the bathroom, and the box stamped “fragileee.”
The tour gives you the lowdown on what scenes were actually shot at the house and why the house was chosen for the movie. I won’t give you the details because you really should go and experience the Christmas Story house for yourself. One thing I will tell you is Bob Clark was the director and he fought to have the movie made. Before “Christmas Story,” he was only known for horror pictures and the Porky’s movies. Using a small budget he created a classic and nostalgic movie that appeals to a large diverse audience. Bob Clark gave us a movie that keeps us laughing all year long. Now that’s magic.