People can be placed in one of two categories for a lot of things in life.
Democrat or Republican
"Seinfeld" or "Friends"
Chicken or Fish
Now I realize that some people can blur the lines between the two respective categories; yes, there must be a gray area. But over the last few weeks, I've conducted countless hours of research to find that there is only one category where it is one or the other, either/or, black and white...
You're either a fan of A Christmas Story or you're not.
I havn't met anyone who just plain likes the movie. In fact, most people that I know can't stand it. Me, on the other hand...I LOVE IT. It is by far the most perfect Christmas movie ever made. And with each passing twenty-four hour Christmas Eve marathon on TBS, I find something new to appreciate and love. This year I showed the film in length to my classes, and although I have seen it 317 times, and although I will watch it again tonight at 8:00 p.m., I caught myself looking up at the screen several times, my inner child grinning with innocent delight. Yes, the film is funny...hell, it's hilarious at some points. But I, and most of my fellow Christmasholics, find pleasure in it because we can relate; because we knew what it was like being a child and wanting to jump our of our skin right after Thanskgiving. When I was six my grandmother got me a dress coat for Christmas and I hated it. And of course I would hate it. I was six; I wanted toys, damn it! My kid brother is twenty-one and he still hasn't voluntarily eaten fruits or vegetables since Gerber mashed them up into a tiny glass jar. I've had soap put into my mouth for swearing and getting caught. And, like Ralphie, I've gotten the end all and be all of Christmas gifts: the tree fort play set from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (for my Robin Hood action figures). I honestly don't think I'll ever get a gift as cool or exciting as that one (and I'm okay with that).
And I challenge you to not tell me a similar story from one, if not all four, of the examples given above.
The reason these stories do conjure splendid memories of childhood is because of Jean Shepherd, author of "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," the novel A Christmas Story was based off of. He was, in my opinion, one of the most underrated American writers. If you've never heard of him, you're wrong: he is the narrator of the film. I've never read an author who captures the kindness and innocence of children so well while putting their emotions into a language that only adults can understand-which is why I think it is so poignant and meaningful.
There is one quote from the film, which coincidentally is my favorite quote of all time, that best sums up life for both children and adults:
"Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at it's zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us."
What Shepherd is trying to say is that life is like a swinging pendulum: in one moment you can be on top of a world that's nothing short of immaculate, but it is only a matter of time for the pendulum to swing back the other way; to a macrocosm marred with abhorrent, dire times.
A very close friend of mine had a 2009 that saying it wasn't ideal would undercut it significantly, but from what I'm told is ending on a higher note than it began. Her pendulum is veering back to where it needs to be, and I'm elated for her.
I've had a pretty full year where I can honestly say that I count my blessings each and every night. There has been one or two things that, simply put, did not go the way I wanted them to, but that's okay-it's not all wine and roses! I've been teaching in my classroom since I graduated last December (something that can be categorized with Haley's comet and the parting of the Red Sea); I was in a wonderful, albeit short-lived, relationship with a woman who made me realize that there are still women with class, grace, beauty and brains out there-you just have to be willing to find them in the most interesting, creative and circumstantial ways imaginable; only one person close to me passed away, but it was for the best as she lived a hard life these last few years and is now in a better place.
But what does that say about this next year? Is my pendulum bound to crash from greatness to unfortunate circumstances? Will I be able to keep a job in such a bitter economic time that our Senate is trying to tax tanning bed usage? Will my family stay healthy, safe, and sound? Will I be fortunate enough to fall in love again? Who knows?!?! Ah, but that is life. We can be skeptical, we can keep our guard up and not venture into the unknown abyss, or, we can keep an open mind and an open heart and hope for our glasses to be half full of cheer, merriment, and good fortune.
A Robin Hood tree fort would definitely help the cause, right?
Merry Christmas and God Bless you and all of your families!