You'll Shoot Your Eye Out! A Trip to the "A Christmas Story" House

Monday, December 9, 2019

As a Jewish kid growing up in an interfaith household, I did celebrate Christmas throughout much of my childhood. But we had a small family & not much to do on the holiday itself, after we'd opened gifts. To be honest, after that, Christmas got kinda boring - so I spent many a Christmas watching A Christmas Story on repeat as it played alllll day long on TNT.

In 1988, TNT started playing 24 hours' worth of A Christmas Story - a whopping 12 showings. It has recently come to my attention that many of my fellow Jews are unaware of the movie, which, to be honest, I find baffling because what else did we have to do on Christmas?! I, for one, entered adulthood knowing much of the film by heart.

But it wasn't until I moved to Cleveland that I learned about the film's local ties. During the holiday season in 2015, I started seeing leg lamps allll over the city. I even did a roundup of them here on the blog!

Clevelanders' love of A Christmas Story is well-founded. Why? Well, because it was filmed right here in town!

OK, OK, part of it was filmed in Canada - but the house that served as much of the film set in actually in my own neighborhood, less than a mile away from my place. A Christmas Story House and Museum are just down the road in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood - but I'd never been.

Until now. A couple weekends ago, I sweet-talked a few friends into going on a holiday adventure with me. It wasn't yet Thanksgiving - but at the A Christmas Story House, it's always A Christmas Story season!

For starters, yes, I am wearing a leg lamp-print dress, courtesy of Shinesty. It's stretchy & soft & vibrantly patterned, & my friend Lilly won a gift card to Outback Steakhouse after she borrowed it to wear to her work holiday party. (We're gonna go eat a Bloomin' Onion, duh. #MIDWEST)

I was a little worried that I'd be the only weirdo visiting the A Christmas Story House in holiday garb, but folks were dressed up in all kinds of wacky holiday get-ups - including the tour guides, who wear pink bunny onesies a la the movie's "pink nightmare" scene.

My friend Erin got in on the fun, too, wearing her Louise Belcher bunny ears as a cross-culture hybrid costume.

The house & museum are open all year long, & the tour itself is under an hour long, led by knowledgeable & charismatic guides. (I love the idea that employees might be putting on their resume, like, "museum docent" - in a totally fair & accurate but still hilarious way.)

In a group of 40, we made our way through the house itself, which served as the set of all of the scenes in the film that appear to, well, take place in the house. 

We saw Ralphie's school essay, the one on which his teacher scribbles, "P.S.: YOU'LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT." We saw the bathroom where Ralphie's mom washes out his mouth with soap (& the phone upon which she relieves the neighbor's call beforehand). We saw the coveted Red Ryder BB Gun & the (unbroken) leg lamp & little brother Randy's puffy snowsuit.

We took photos with all of it, of course - & again, my friends were great sports. 

We also learned all about the film's history, plus a couple bits of trivia. Though Roger Ebert gave it four stars, it was a box office flop when it first aired in 1983. Since being adopted by TNT, though, it's become one of the most popular Christmas movies in history. 

Fun fact: The director makes a few appearances in the film, including a scene in which he's wearing clothing from the wrong time period - sporting a Miami Dolphins hat in a movie that took place long before the Miami Dolphins existed! 

The tour ended in a huuuuge gift store full of just about every movie-related item you can imagine. I already own an actual leg lamp (some friends got us one as a wedding gift!), so I just picked up a small leg lamp magnet. There are a few things I'd love to go back for, though, especially when/if Mike & I ever buy a house.

Oh, & our tickets to the house & museum also got us 10% off our meals across the street at The Rowley Inn, a third-shift dive bar with truly incredible food. 

In keeping with the day's extremely Clevelandy themes, I went with the Polish Boy, a local local: kielbasa in a hot dog bun, topped with slaw, crispy French fries, & bourbon BBQ sauce. We served miniature versions at our wedding! Rowley serves the best version in town, on par only with Banter.

In all, it was a really fun afternoon, & I feel lucky to have friends who will indulge my sometimes-strange, adventurous whims. I plan to wear this leg lamp dress all season long... & can't wait to watch the film with new eyes on Christmas Day!

Do you know about this movie? Have you watched in on Christmas? How are there people who don't know anything about this gem?!

Disclosure: Shinesty gifted me this dress in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own - and the museum tickets and meal were both paid for by me!

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