A Christmas Story is required Christmas viewing for me because it’s view of Christmas is most like mine. There are no miracles, no big family get-togethers, no life altering encounters or revelations, and no wacky travel hijinks. It’s a Christmas movie with no mention of religion, it’s just a small family who love each other even if they annoy one another and disagree from time to time.
In such a quotable and generally fast moving story, my favorite moment, which can only be completely appreciated on a second viewing, is when Ralphie and Randy meet back up with their parents after they’ve seen Santa and we get this dialog:
The Old Man: Well, did you see Santa Claus? Did you tell him what you wanted for Christmas? Did he ask you if you’d been a good boy all year?
The Old Man: Don’t worry, he knows. He always knows.
What’s great there is not just that The Old Man is having fun with his son, it’s that the Old Man is talking about himself. He knows that Ralphie wants the official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and “this thing which tells time,” despite the fact that Ralphie has asked everyone but his father for it. And the Old Man has already bought it for him without even his wife knowing.
Throughout the movie The Old Man has very little to do with the daily parenting duties of the boys and they don’t relate all that often (“It was the first time that it had been suggested that I go help my father with anything.”). But this is a moment where The Old Man is eagerly looking forward to making his son happy tomorrow morning. For me, this is one of the best, most honest depictions of gift giving and love that comes up in a Christmas movie.