Jim McMillen's Blog

15

Probably one of the most watched Christmastime TV movies each year is “A Christmas Story,” the story of little Ralphie and his wish to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The movie, a production with an early 1940s setting, is now 30 years old and continues to attract audiences like the old standbys “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Relating to the story takes me back to 1944 when I was eight years old. Most of my friends had Daisy Red Ryder BB guns, and I wanted one too. I was about the same age as little Ralphie in the movie, and I wanted a BB gun just as much as Ralphie did. My father told me -- you guessed it--“No way will you get a BB gun. You might shoot someone’s eye out,” just like Ralphie’s Dad told him. 

On Christmas morning, I found a long, narrow package beneath the tree, the shape of a Red Ryder BB gun. Knowing that I had prevailed, with heart pounding, I quickly unwrapped the package, to find a Stevens single-shot 410-gauge shotgun. It was used but in good shape, and a box of shells was in another package. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed in not getting a BB gun. That eroded quickly when my dad offered to take me out in the country that afternoon to try out my shotgun. Dove hunting season had passed, so we thought we might jump a covey of quail. No quail were found, but I shot several jackrabbits. In ensuing years, I hunted both dove and quail with Dad, using the 410 until I was old enough to handle 20- and 12-gauge shotguns.

I never owned a BB gun and neither did my two sons. Yes, I relayed my Dad’s “Shoot someone’s eye out” message to the boys. The only difference is that Ralphie did get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. I’m a little jealous of him. Perhaps, my sons are, too.

Anyway, Happy 30th Anniversary to Ralphie and all those who gave us so much joy in “A Christmas Story.”
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