We've all seen the movie A Christmas Story- it's the one where Ralphie wants a Red Rider BB gun, and everyone keeps telling him that he'll shoot his eye out. It's one of those movies that has a cult following, meaning you probably either love it, or you hate it. I'm okay if you hate it; in fact most of my family can only stand one or two viewings a Christmas season before they're ready to move on to other Christmas movies (Home Alone 1 and 2, The Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town are all some other favorites).
But, A Christmas Story is my favorite, and this is why: when my grandfather was a little boy, he grew up in the era in which the film is set- that post-WWI, midwestern, Great Depression era. He was born in 1931, on a small farm in Kansas. Luckily, he wasn't in the Dust Bowl, and because of his family's farm, they didn't feel the effects of the depression quite as badly as some. By the time he was around Ralphie's age (10 or so), the country was on the verge of pulling itself out of the depression, and they could once again begin to afford things like toys for Christmas. In short, my grandfather identified with Ralphie on a very deep level.
My grandfather would watch A Christmas Story on TBS's 24-hour marathon on Christmas every year. And I would watch it with him. As he got older and more and more ill, he'd sleep through most of it, but before those years, he'd share stories of his own childhood during that era with me while we watched the movie. We both had it memorized line-for-line, so talking over it was no biggie. Some years, it would be the same stories he'd told over and over. Others, he'd recall a new memory. He'd chuckle, and remind me of how easy I had it with my computers and whatnot. I'd give him a hard time about anything I reasonably could. It was our way.
No one else ever really bothered to join us for those viewings of that movie. It was just us, even though we were sitting in his living room with the rest of the family coming in and out as they pleased. No one else really understood why we watched that movie on rerun like we did. And, to this day- almost eight years after his passing- no one will watch that movie with me, so in memory of him, I watch it by myself.
Here's to you, Old Fart. May your days in Heaven be merry and bright!