A Christmas tale of tradition, by Bethany Crandell

June 22, 1985.

The Slip ‘n Slide was in place; staked at the corners with the hose secured to the plastic ring up top, and a little dishwashing soap added for extra speed. Eight prize bags were lined up on the basement ping pong table, each one bursting with Smarties, cinnamon gummy bears and more worthless trinkets than a garage sale. After much pleading, Mom agreed to order Domino’s (delivery pizza, such an exciting new concept!) and buy soda that, for once, didn’t say SHASTA on the side of the can. All the makings for a great tenth birthday party were in place…especially when you considered my movie of choice for the big event.

Though it was the first day of summer, my friends were about to be introduced to what I consider one of the greatest films of all time: A CHRISTMAS STORY. I fell in love with this quirky and relatively unknown (at the time) flick the first time I saw it. Obviously, Ralphie’s unrelenting determination to own a gun that would shoot his eye out was entertaining, but it was the off-beat performances delivered by his supporting cast members that left the biggest impression on me. Little brother who’s bundled up in so many layers that he looks like a tick about to pop? Yes! Turkey-obsessed father who drops F-bombs at the drop of a hat? DOUBLE YES!  Triple Dog Dares?! YES, YES, YES! This movie has some of the best characterization caught on film, which is why my little heart broke into a thousand pieces when I slid the tape into the VCR and my so-called friends pulled up their snoots, promptly stating they’d rather jump on the trampoline than watch this weird, fifties movie.

Despite my friends’ obvious stupidity and my very vulnerable emotional state, I continued to profess my love for this film. On occasion I would encounter someone who appreciated it the way I did, but mostly I was met with judgmental scowls and confused expressions followed by, “I’ve never heard of that.”  By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I’d determined that A CHRISTMAS STORY was destined to be my first cult-classic mistress. The secret lover I’d visit when I needed a pick-me up, or a reminder of how charming a mundane life could be. It was just me and my movie…until 1997 when TBS came along and exposed the truth.

I probably should have been grateful for the outing but I wasn’t. I was mad. And resentful. For years I’d been proclaiming this film’s awesomeness to the world, only to have my words fall on deaf ears. But after one, twenty-four hour Ted Turner endorsed marathon suddenly it was a holiday classic that everyone loved…

My secret lover had become a rent-by-the-hour street walker for all to enjoy.


It took years of grumbles, TBS protests, and gallons of eggnog, but I’ve finally come to the point in my life where I can accept 24 Hours of A CHRISTMAS STORY as a Christmas tradition I’m willing to embrace. Not because I don’t love it as passionately as I did thirty years ago, I do!, but because I can remind my children for twenty-four hours straight that for a while I was a lot cooler than the rest of the world.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

And, please, leave the leg lamp on so I can find my way home.