Thoughts on editing, inspired by ‘A Christmas Story’

Ralphie Parker will do anything for a Red Ryder BB gun—even write a ‘theme’ about it in school, for which he earns a C-plus. Did you deserve the grade?

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One of my favorite Christmas movies is “A Christmas Story.” Although we don’t like it enough to sit through TBS’s annual 24-hour marathon of the film, one of our traditions is to watch it once at this time of year.

In case you haven’t seen it, the movie is about 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and a central plot line is his quest to get a Red Ryder BB Gun. Whenever he asks for the gun for Christmas, he invariably is told, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

In one sequence in the movie, Ralphie’s fourth-grade class is told to write “a theme” on the subject, “What I Want for Christmas.” Ralphie, who ordinarily doesn’t like theme-writing, views the assignment as a primo opportunity to end the “conspiracy of irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker.”

As he turns in his theme, he fantasizes about garnering an A+ (make that multiple plusses) on it.

“I knew I was handing Miss Shields a masterpiece,” says the narrator, the adult Ralphie. “Maybe Miss Shields in her ecstasy would excuse me from theme writing for the rest of my natural life.”

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