There’s only one moment in A Christmas Story that steps outside of Ralphie Parker’s manic, heightened childhood perspective. It is the film’s penultimate scene, depicting the rarely-dramatized Christmas night. The gifts have been given, the eye shot out, the messes cleaned, the duck eaten. Snow falls gently in the window as “Silent Night” plays on the Crosley, and Ralphie’s parents share a moment of quiet contented peace. Here is how Shepherd, Clark, and Brown rendered it in the shooting script.
I have always loved this scene. So much Christmas media cuts away at the height of the celebration, a frenzy of wrapping paper or a raucous dinner or a last-minute “saving of Christmas” on the night of the 24th. Few press onward into the cozy quietude that (ideally) follows.
Given that the entire film is presented as a memory play, it almost breaks the rules of the narrative to show us this scene for which he was not present. Did Ralphie’s parents later recount this moment to him? Or did he, in his adulthood, simply realize that it must have happened when he lived it for himself? Either way, I believe it’s deeply important to the narrative.
Ralphie is nine years old. We have just seen the greatest of his childhood Christmases, but also perhaps the last – the last where he believes in Santa, the last where a toy can be his whole world, the last where his innocence can remain shocked by acts of violence and crummy commercials. This scene reminds us that the grown-up version of Christmas that awaits him isn’t so bad either.
Have a good night, Avocados.