During A Christmas Story, it’s 9-year-old Ralphie Parker who lets the viewers in on his childhood Christmas spent longing for a Red Ryder, carbon action, 200-shot, model air range rifle. And along the way, Ralphie learns a thing or two that he shares with the audience.
Only time will tell what life lessons a much older Ralphie has to teach everyone in the upcoming sequel A Christmas Story Christmas. But for now, from getting kicked when you’re down to trying a foreign holiday dish, Ralphie offered a lot of important tidbits in the original film.
Bathrooms Are The Best Room For Privacy
Living with two parents and an annoying younger sibling typically equals not an ounce of privacy growing up. Ralphie experiences the horrors of this, sharing a bedroom with his little brother Randy and being bombarded with his mother’s questions and his father’s lifelong battle with the furnace.
But when the moment came that Ralphie needed absolute privacy – to decode the secret message to members of the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society – Ralphie had a genius idea: go in the bathroom. It may not have gone entirely uninterrupted, with Randy whining outside the locked door that he “has to go,” but it gave Ralphie enough time to decode the message, however lackluster it was.
Stand Up For Yourself
Throughout the film, Ralphie and his pals endure a lot of bullying at the hands of Scut Farkus and his toadie Grover Dill. Ralphie usually freezes in fear before running away from the bullies, but one day, he finally had enough.
Smacking the snot out of Farkus while muttering incoherent curse words may not necessarily be the best way to go about handling a bully, but Ralphie did show everyone – his classmates and the viewers – that he’s not to be messed with.
The Severity Of The Triple Dog Dare
During recess when the kids are gathered around a frozen pole, it’s Flick who gets dared by Schwartz to stick his tongue to it. But when a single dare and a double dare don’t do the trick, Schwartz resorts to the “mother of all dares.”
As soon as Schwartz triple dog dares Flick, young Ralphie’s jaw drops while narrator Ralphie tells the uninformed viewers how serious a triple dog dare is in kid-dom.
Someone Might Kick You When You’re Down, But Don’t Let That Stop You
One of the most memorable parts of the film is when Ralphie gets to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas. But when he finally manages to get the words out, all in one breath, Santa’s response isn’t what he hoped for.
Santa tells him he’ll shoot his eye out and proceeds to nudge Ralphie down the slide with his big, black boot, leaving Ralphie in a sense of shock for a moment. And while the interaction initially brought his hopes down, Ralphie still managed to keep a sliver of hope that he would get his Red Ryder BB gun.
Give Chinese Turkey A Try
After looking forward to a Christmas turkey dinner and all the possibilities for leftovers, it all goes haywire when The Bumpus’ dogs break into their home and destroy their meal.
But a few mangy mutts don’t stop the Parkers, who go out to eat at the only open restaurant in town: Chinese. In a hilarious turn of events, Ralphie informs the viewers that was the year they were all introduced to Chinese turkey, which was actually a cooked duck – head and all.
Dad Just Might Know More Than You Think
The entire film follows Ralphie’s journey to letting everyone know he wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. He tells his mother, his theme essay, and even Santa himself, who all shoot him down.
In the end, it’s The Old Man who came through for Ralphie, hiding the wrapped BB gun in the living room for his son to find. As the only person in the film not to acknowledge his son’s desire for the BB gun, the gift coming from him turns into an extra special surprise, proving that dads might just know more than you think they do.
Schmoozing Doesn’t Always Work
Ralphie masters the art of schmoozing throughout the film, starting with leaving ads for the Red Ryder BB gun in his mother’s magazines. He later gives his teacher an enormous fruit basket in hopes she’ll give him an A++++ on his theme all about what he wants for Christmas.
But at the end of the day, none of these tactics work. Everyone tells Ralphie he can’t get a BB gun because he’ll shoot his eye out, proving schmoozing might not always be the way to go to get what you want.
Persistence Does Work
Although his attempts to schmooze don’t pan out, Ralphie has the tenacity to be admired. When his mother said no, he moved on to his teacher, and when she said no, he moved on to Santa Claus.
It may have been a lot of work, but Ralphie’s unwavering persistence paid off in the end. He did indeed receive the only Christmas gift he wanted that year, reminding children and adults alike to never give up.
You Will Shoot Your Eye Out
After Ralphie receives his Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning, it’s not all a happy ending from there. When he goes outside to try it out, one BB manages to come back at him and shoot him right in his glasses-protected eye.
Sure, he didn’t literally shoot his eye out, but this turn of events goes to show that after everything you do to achieve what you want, you may still not entirely succeed in the end, and that’s okay.
Cherish Your Childhood Memories
If this Christmastime classic has taught its adoring fans anything during its annual 24-hour Christmas Eve runs on TBS and TNT, it’s to cherish your childhood memories. That’s exactly what Ralphie Parker – a.k.a. Jean Shepherd – did with both this film and the book it’s based on.
Viewers watch young Ralphie gazing into the window at Higbee’s, joining in on an innocent class prank, washing his mouth out with soap after saying the dreaded F-dash-dash-dash word, and falling asleep with his favorite Christmas present. Meanwhile, older Ralphie narrates it all from an adult’s mind relaying his childhood self’s wonder while never losing it all those years later.