Monday, December 29, 2003

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

Hang on tight - I'm about to backpedal over everything I've been saying about carrying concealed weapons, and guns in general and stuff. Hold on.....wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Ok, maybe not a complete backpedal - but SayUncle brings up A Christmas Story (SU: Ok...whatever) and reminded me of something I had thought about on Christmas Day watching it at my wife's family's house in West Tennessee....

There's a scene near the end of the movie - Little Ralphie's gotten everything he wanted for Christmas, all except for the one thing he wanted most: the Red Rider BB Rifle. Throughout the whole picture, his parents have denied his request for the BB gun - citing its inherant dangers. In the warm early evening 1940's Christmas Day afterglow, his little brother Randy snoozes beneath the tree, clutching a model zeppelin. Ralphe sits on the couch between his mom and dad, a little dazed, a little happy, and little sad, but not wanting to disappoint his mom and dad who sit on either side of him.

One of them ask him if he got everything he wanted for Christmas, and Ralphie says, yes...pretty much. Almost. His mom is comforting, knowing no-one gets everything they want for Christmas.

His dad, however, has a gleam in his eye. "What's that over there?" he wonders, peering at a chair in the far corner of the room. Ralphie glances up, curious. "What's over there behind that chair? Go ahead, Ralphie - go and see."

A small light begins to build in Ralphie's eyes as he clambers cautiously off the sofa and makes his way over the chair. Mom and Dad stand up to watch, Mom with a quizzical look at Dad - who has a wonderfully melancholy look on his face.

Ralphie finds hidden behind the chair - a long, thin package. Only one thing it could be - he knows it, but can't quite believe it. Eager hands rip at the wrapping paper and we begin to see the markings of a Red Rider BB gun.

Mom says, "How...where did that...?" to which Dad replies with a shrug, "It was Santa - Santa must've brought it." Then softly, to his wife he says, "My father gave me one of the those when I was a kid...."

That scene of a father's love for his son, and the desire to see his children's wishes come true is my favorite scene in any Christmas movie - and one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.

I try very hard to keep the magic of Christmas alive for my kids - we set out cookies, milk, reindeer food outside - we open the fireplace, and make sure the flue is open. The belief in Santa lasts for such a short time as desires turn from BB Guns and Star Wars Death Star playsets to records, CD's, Money Market accounts.... as much of the magic as we can hold on to, the more precious their childhood memories will be.

And from a father passing on a tradition to his son on Christmas to my father passing on traditions to me and on to my kids, it's a Wonderful thing.

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