For many people, the instant Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story,” speaks not only to their hearts about the Christmas season, but also about the trials of being a kid.

That holds true for Steve Gillespie, Wellsville police chief, who said the 1983 movie is his favorite. Set in the 1940s, the movie’s main character, Ralphie, tries to convince everyone that a Red Ryder BB gun would be the perfect Christmas gift.

“I think this movie captures all the excitement, frustrations, anxiety and every other type of emotion that a child Ralphie’s age has, as well as all of the emotions that all the family members go through during the build up to and the day of Christmas,” Chief Gillespie said. “There is a real knowledge of human nature threaded throughout this movie, and I don’t know of anyone who cannot relate to at least one of the main characters in this movie.

“Although this movie comes out at Christmas, it is also about childhood,” he said, “and throughout the movie they give example after example of what it is like to be a boy Ralphie’s age.”

I agree with the chief. I can relate to many of the scenes myself — including a campaign waged by my younger brother and me to get our parents to buy us BB guns for Christmas in the early 1970s. We achieved our goal, but quickly lost the right to use the BB guns for an extended period when we decided to go hunt pigeons in the tin-roofed storage building on our farm. It’s amazing what kind of damage you can do with a couple of errant shots.

Gillespie said the movie offers good life lessons about being a kid in general.  

“As I watch this movie with my family, it does not bring back memories of watching the movie at Christmas time, but the movie itself brings back memories of being a child during the Christmas season, as well as memories of being a child in general,” Gillespie said. “I know I have actually had some of the exact same experiences that Ralphie went through. To include the BB gun, the disappointment in the decoder ring, the school bully and even the part of getting my mouth washed out with soap.

“I actually can relate to just about every incident and experience that Ralphie went through during this movie, and because of that — and the memories this movie brings back — it is my favorite Christmas time movie.”

And like the chief, I can relate to many of the scenes, including getting my mouth washed out with soap.

I still can remember as a young boy seeing a group of people pass by on a hay rack for the first time. Unfortunately, my response was: “What the hell is that?”

To which my grandmother promptly took me inside and washed out my mouth with soap. Another life lesson learned.

Doug Carder is senior writer for the Herald. Email him at