My Obsession with “A Christmas Story”

I was 13 when we Californians made a rare trip to spend the holidays with our Cleveland relatives. My eldest cousin took over the social planning one evening, insisting we see a holiday movie recently filmed in the area.

The movie stared Peter Billingsley, the kid from the Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup commercial. I couldn’t tell you at the time who the rest of the actors were, though my parents probably could. We searched the scenes, trying to determine which looked familiar. We recognized the downtown clip, having just shopped there the day before. The neighborhoods, chosen to resemble houses in the past, resembled so many of the Cleveland neighborhoods in the 80s. 

The movie became a favorite, though as years passed, the memory of how much I loved the film faded. I wasn’t hip enough to own the VHS.

17 years ago, when the TNT network broadcast “A Christmas Story” for the full 24 hours of Christmas day, my love for this film rekindled.

I can now recite the whole movie by heart. My kids think certain lines from the film are a natural part of my lexicon. We own the DVD so I can watch it any time of year, but listening to the movie softly in the background of our December 25th holiday hubbub brings me a sense of calm.

In 2004, San Diegan, Brian Jones (because all good things come from San Diego) bought the Cleveland house used for exterior filming on Ebay (because all good things come from Ebay). You can read the history here. In 2006, A Christmas Story house was open to the public. Edd and I visited for the first time during the summer of 2007.

When my family made plans for a Christmas reunion in Cleveland this month, A Christmas Story house was on the top of the tourist list. Actually, it was the ONLY thing on the tourist list. My girls are now old enough to appreciate the museum – though they didn’t appreciate their mother forcing them to act out movie scenes.

Show Mommy how the piggies eat.

Oooohhff. It’s a bowling ball.

I told you. I’m obsessed.

Everyone has a favorite holiday movie, right? “Rudolf, the Red Nose Reindeer” is a classic and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will always touch your heart. “Christmas Vacation” is great for a laugh and “Die Hard” DOES NOT COUNT AS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE, PEOPLE. 

For me, “A Christmas Story” is just a fun way of looking at reality. Whether life lessons lead to soap poisoning, a triple-dog-dare resulting in tongue damage, or shooting your eye out, things usually shape up if there is a good Chinese Restaurant nearby. 

Merry Christmas, my friends! I pray your days are void of pink-bunny pjs, but extra full of leg-lamps and Red-Ryder BB guns, complete with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.

Dont. Forget. To. Drink. Your. Ov-al-tine?!?
Son of a …


  1. Gail says

    Glad I was able to return your copy of the movie today, and just in time too. Thanks for sharing it with us. Enjoy "listening to the movie softly in the background of [your] December 25th holiday hubbub". Merry Christmas.

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