Tis the season for the Sojourner Class at our church to watch some Christmas movies and try to unpack a few spiritual lessons. Last year, we spent a few weeks watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and so far this year we’ve viewed and discussed clips from Miracle on 34th Street and The Bishop’s Wife.
This Sunday we’ll be watching A Christmas Story. As you might recall, that’s the one where little Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) sets his heart on the mother of all Christmas presents: “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.”
Of particular interest to me is the way Ralphie is continuously foiled by the now famous refrain, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t find that sort of thing funny at all. But in this case, context is everything. Last night I was watching the scene in which Ralphie actually did “shoot his eye out,” and I nearly doubled over and passed out from laughing too hard.
This one is a little less ethereal and a little more earthy and raw than the previous ones we’ve watched. But in many ways, it’s more realistic in that it deals with how dysfunctional, less-than-perfect families with warts and all stumble their way through the stressful holiday season and still manage to find a little redemption at the end of the day. And when I say “dysfunctional families,” I’m not talking about that other family way over there. I’m talking about all of us.
All this Christmas cinema has got me to wondering: What Christmas movie or TV special has meant the most to you over the years and why? Also, if you have any suggestions on discussion questions which might suit A Christmas Story, I’m all ears.
By the way, if you’re interested in watching A Christmas Story again, don’t fret. You’ll have plenty of chances when TBS airs the movie in a 24-hour, continuous loop beginning Christmas Eve.
But be careful if you do: You might shoot your eye out!