The Subtle Heart of A Christmas Story


A Christmas Story is a holiday classic.  It plays for twenty-four hours straight on TBS every year.  People love it, and for good reasons.   It is hilarious.  It is comforting.  It is a Christmas tradition.  But there is an aspect of A Christmas Story that I have never heard mentioned before.  Today I would like to address it.

At the heart of this film is a loving family.  They are silly characters, but they are endearing because they love each other.  You can see it in the way they interact.  I’ve seen families who interact with such a heightened tension that, to an outsider, the air becomes heavy and oppressive.  A family of anxious actors is hardly an indication of love.  On the contrary,  I’ve experienced the love between families who feel no need to put on a facade.  I consider myself lucky to be a member of such a family.  In such a loving environment you find much laughter accompanied by uninhibited feeling and brutal honesty.  Such transparency can only exist in the presence of love.  A loving family is an institution of grace and truth built on a firm foundation of love.

Did you ever consider what led to Ralphie getting his BB Gun for Christmas?  Surely, his mother discussed it with his father.  She must have told him that it was too dangerous.  But his father must have known how much Ralphie desired the gift, and he considered the joy it would bring him.  In the scene where Ralphie finally gets the gun, his father asks him, “Did you get everything you wanted?”  Ralphie replies with a sigh, “Almost.”    The father then says, “Almost huh, well, that’s life.”   The father knows that you can’t get everything you want in life, but he loves his son and wants to bring him joy.  Watch his reaction when Ralphie opens his present.  He can hardly contain his happiness at the sight of his son’s joy.  It reminds me of the Bible verse that says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

The next time you watch A Christmas Story, look for the body language between the parents.  You’ll be surprised to find how affectionate they are.  It’s subtle, but it’s undeniable.  What I really want you to notice is the final scene where the mother walks downstairs to the father who is sitting in a chair and watching the snow.   With their children resting peacefully upstairs, they share a moment.  I’m touched by how the father gently rubs the mother’s back.  Now, Ralphie never saw this happen, but I like to think that as an adult he recognized the relationship his parents shared.  Not only did they provide him with shelter and food and clothes, but also an illustration of love.

A Christmas Story touches our hearts because it is brimming over with love.



2 thoughts on “The Subtle Heart of A Christmas Story

  1. I can’t wait to watch it now. My family has it on all day long on Christmas every year. We have it in the background while opening presents, while eating our supper, and while we’re simply enjoying each other’s company during the holiday. When the final reel spins and it’s no longer on, I get a bit sad thinking about how that’s the sure sign Christmas day has come and gone. Then I get a little choked up.

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