There are many wonderful things about this time of year, some of which I enumerated in a previous post. However, I have not yet elaborated upon a very specific tradition of the women in my family: watching A Christmas Story as many times as possible between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
My boyfriend, poor soul, freely admits that he does not understand this at all. He is not really a big fan of the movie, having been exposed to it rather late in life (read: he hadn't seen it until he met me). But my sister, mother, and I--oh, we can't get enough of it. I HAVE been known to watch this extremely seasonal movie out of season (DR SHE BLOGGO's May birthday party, I am looking at you), but I do prefer to view it in its proper wintry season, in the following manner:
1. Get home on Christmas Eve in time for my aunt's dessert party. After stuffing my face with enough pastries to give all of Florida diabetes, retire to my grandmother's couch to catch the first viewing as TBS begins to air its "24 Hours of A Christmas Story".
2. Wake up on Christmas Day and have breakfast. Post-eating frenzy, flip on TBS and resume viewing in whatever point of the story is on the screen. Perhaps I have dropped in on the Chinese restaurant goose; perhaps Ralphie has just broken his glasses or said his first curse word; perhaps it's time to show Mommy how the little piggies eat. Wherever the movie is, I watch. And laugh like the ape that I am. I know the damn movie by heart--it doesn't matter if it's an hour in, I'll pick up the storyline and go from there.
3. Sometime Christmas afternoon, migrate to my best friend's house. And, after visiting with her parents and sister, plop to the living room floor, flip on TBS, and do it all again.
It just does not get old, folks. It is the movie I will never be sick of. I've probably seen it more times than I've seen STAR WARS or 10 Things I Hate About You. It is just, as Ferris Bueller would say, so choice. I didn't live through the Fifties (thank all the gods), so this is what that era looks like to me: hideous fashion, weird toys, heavily buttered food, oblivious husbands whose wives laugh at them obliquely. 95% of the film's lines have made it into popular parlance. My sister and I used to have a string of mini leg lights that we decorated with this time of year; hardly a substitute for a real leg lamp, but we make do. The first time we showed the movie to our mother--in a Williamsburg inn when I was about 12--she laughed through THE ENTIRE THING. Tears streaming, sides clutched.
So there you have it: Diana's most cherished holiday tradition. Classy people have churches and Masses and candle-lighting and special foods or drinks they make each year...I have Ralphie and Randy and Scut Farkus. Speaking of which, apologies to Zack Ward, who actually grew up to be extremely handsome. Peter Billingsley also did well; he was in an after-school special about steroids which my classmates and I watched with horror in high school health, and now he produces movies like Iron Man.