I’ve seen A Christmas Story countless times.
And I’m sure to catch three more viewings — at least in segments — when it’s on in 24-hour marathon form this Christmas.
But I’ll never forget the very first time I saw the movie as a child with my late Mom.
While I’ve lived in Arkansas longer than anywhere, I grew up in the religiously diverse suburbs of Baltimore.
Mom drove us to the multiplex. We took our seats and waited for it to begin. We waited. And we waited. The movie just took forever to start. Which in the prehistoric, pre-cellphone era of the early ’80s, gave Mom plenty of time to people-watch.
As she studied those seated near us — a more mature audience with no other kids in attendance — she noticed things. She spotted yarmulkes. She detected Yiddish words.
This Christmas Story crowd was … Jewish?
Finally, the lights went down, and in the place of Peter Billingsley on screen it was … Barbra Streisand?
Instead of entering the Christmas Story theater, we had clearly taken a wrong turn into the Yentl theater. (IMBD description of the drama: “A Jewish girl disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training.”)
We finally made it to A Christmas Story, already in progress. Maybe we missed the first 20 minutes of this new holiday comedy about the zany Parker household, but we got to see it dozens of times — and memorize it — since. And, besides, sitting in the wrong theater for so long just seems like something Ralphie’s family would have done!
Speaking of A Christmas Story, did you know there are Arkansas connections to the film? Read about the Daisy Airgun Museum in Rogers and about Melinda Dillon, the Arkansas actress who played Ralphie’s mother in our December issue.
Also in this issue, you’ll also meet Allan Baltz of Jonesboro. Unlike A Christmas Story’s Ralphie, a boy who was a bit obsessed with getting, selfless Allan, 11, will surely inspire you with his spirit of giving .
Wishing you the best and most blessed Christmas,
Jennifer Christman Cia