An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
It’s getting toward the end of January and our Christmas tree is glowing brightly in the dining room. There are people who are a bit slow to take down the tree, but I believe that we are by far, the absolutely slowest.
No one ever wants to take the tree down. It’s not a real tree, so there’s no time limit. It’s not going to dry out nor is it going to drop millions of pine needles in the house. I guess that takes the edge off it, but to be fair, we’ve always had a problem with our tree. I think we should just throw something over it and leave it up until next year. Nonetheless, sometime around Easter, someone will point out, usually a guest, that we still have the tree up.
We pleasantly agree that yes, indeed, the tree is still standing. Yup, absolutely, no doubt about it, the tree is right there in the dining room where it was during Christmas, New Year‘s, Martin Luther King Day and Valentine’s Day. We just rename it in honor of whatever holiday is currently in progress.
We used to be embarrassed but after all these years of not taking down the tree until the flowers are blooming in the garden, we’ve become fairly thick-skinned about the whole thing.
I can’t take it down myself, nor is this Garry’s bailiwick. When I was younger, I did all that stuff but I’m not so young now. My back is not accommodating about bending, twisting. It’s barely willing to coöperate and let me do things like sleep through the night (defined as more than 5 hours), walk around without yelping with pain every time I move or even sit on the sofa. It is, in fact, pretty bad and while sometimes it seems to be getting better, the moment I try to do anything more than nothing, it lets me know about it on no uncertain terms. So, if it’s up to me, that tree is a permanent part of our decor.
Right now, it’s the Winter Tree. Next month, when I am sure it will still be standing there, I will call it our Valentine Tree and if it’s still hanging around in April, it will be the Passover and Easter tree. In between it will be my birthday tree, then Garry’s birthday tree.
By May it becomes a bit embarrassing and my son will probably take the tree down. If not, we’ll just call it his birthday tree and by Autumn, we might as well just leave it up because the holidays will be coming around again.
No one can say we don’t get enough use out of our tree. We have gotten our money’s worth. That tree doesn’t owe us a thing.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Right after “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it’s time for us to watch “A Christmas Story.” It’s part of the ritual of Christmas and one of my favorite traditions. Just the narration, spoken by its author, the inimitable Jean Shepherd, is a gem. It’s the story of Christmas seen through the eyes of Ralphie, a kid like me. A kid like you.
I’m not sure what my favorite scene is, but it may be when the neighbor’s pack of hounds takes out the Christmas turkey. Or perhaps the singing of “Jingle Bells” by the staff of the local Chinese restaurant.
There are so many great scenes, it really is hard to pick one. It remains our favorite light-hearted go-to Christmas movie.
It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone over the age five hasn’t seen it. It plays on numerous channels every year, but just in case, we have it on DVD. I know it has been recently released on Blu-ray.
I highly recommend it. Although it is sometimes poignant, it is not sentimental, yet it manages to be both nostalgic and very funny. Probably the best role of Darin McGavin’s career.
- Jean Shepherd Reading A Christmas Story On Christmas Eve 1974 (futurelawyer.typepad.com)
- Great Character: Ralphie (“A Christmas Story”) (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Liguori: Jean Shepherd Revisited! A Christmas Story – The Musical Should Not Be Missed! (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- A Christmas Story Limited Holiday Gift Pack Giveaway : (Ends 12/12) (shibleysmiles.com)