A Christmas Story. From October. Last Year. What? I’ve Been Busy.
So the truth?
I get a little depressed around Christmas.
I don’t know why.
Probably something about my parents’ divorce and how no one talks to each other and the fact that last night I realized that I cannot remember the last Christmas I spent with any blood relatives aside from my sister.
But who knows, really?
When my sister is here, she forces the Christmas Spirit upon me like a frat boy with a tray full of shots, and I take them — happily — one after another and before I know it I’ve decorated a tree and baked some cookies and even have some haphazard lights on the porch.
Melting, scalloped, gingerbread trim.
This year, there’s none.
And we didn’t even throw our Misfit Christmas Party this year — something I didn’t even think about until one of the regular attendees called to ask if it was happening.
I guess I was distracted by our upcoming trip.
About every other year we’ve been visiting Justin’s family in Omaha, Nebraska, which feels to me a bit like going to the dentist. I kind of dread it at first but then, while I’m there, I appreciate the necessity and eventually that fresh, clean feeling upon our departure and wonder why I was ever afraid of it at all.
I don’t dread it because of his family, but because of mine. Omaha is Ground Zero for me. The place where everything happened and nothing is left except the shell of a house I refuse to drive past lest it trigger some yet-unknown reaction from me. To me, Omaha is a place that used to feel happy, but now it’s not. And yet we go, because much of Justin’s family still lives there, and for him it’s still Home and not the Dentist and that makes me happy again. And his family, in all of their mass chaos and personality and warmth, makes me happy again, too.
It’s all very confusing.
Something else that makes me happy, year after year, but not quite the same way, is the movie, A Christmas Story.
It’s the longest, most horrific, makes-you-want-to-shoot-your-OWN-eye-out-with-that-Red-Ryder-BB-gun kind of torture, but it’s tradition. Since I can only handle tradition is small doses, this movie is perfect.
Not just any house — the house.
Did you know this was an actual home you could visit? And that it’s in Cleveland?
And while it wasn’t all decked out in Christmas lights (maybe they only do that around Christmas?), it did have the festive porch lights:
And of course, the infamous leg lamp:
It’s actually a museum that apparently houses original film memorabilia, but they charge something ridiculous like $800 per person to get in. (Okay, maybe it’s more like $10 for adults.) Since we can be crazy cheap when it comes to tourist attractions and would rather spend our money on food, we opted for a photo on the front porch.
Justin, me, and my brother Joel. (Let’s pretend I’m not wearing the ugliest sweater in the world. It was post-wedding hangover day. Give me a break.)
You can’t even see the lamp in the picture which is kind of a bummer, but worry not, my friends, for they had a gift shop.
They had plenty of leg lamps there.
For a mere $179.99 on sale, this too, could be yours. They weren’t even the frag-i-lay kind from the movie, but a cheap plastic.
I was seriously disillusioned.
In fact, everything in the gift shop was cool to see, but grossly overpriced.
My favorite part about the stop was seeing the Parker family car, which I believe is an original prop for the movie:
It’s a 1937 Oldsmobile Model F-37 four-door trunkback sedan.
“That son of a bitch would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator!”
So Christmas isn’t all bad.
In fact, if dogs don’t eat our entire dinner and I don’t get my tongue stuck to a frozen pole or shoot my eye out with a Red Ryder BB gun, it will actually be pretty great.
And I might actually be looking forward to it.
Ready-or-not, O-town — here we come!
What are you doing this year? Any favorite family traditions?