Kids Christmas Stories

Each country, each family has a special tradition or unique way of celebrating their holidays. Holidays with kids are special times. Kids can be delightful especially at Christmas. Kids Christmas stories offer an opportunity to expose our kids to the differences in cultures and traditions of different lands and of different eras.

Many cultures and traditions remain the same throughout the ages, but many change as time passes. Kids enjoy hearing stories of the holiday celebrations from long ago. Reading Kids Christmas stories such as “The Christmas Carol” or “The Night Before Christmas” are a tradition in many families.

The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)

A true television classic, The Homecoming was the second movie (after 1963’s Spencer’s Mountain) based on Earl Hamner’s autobiographical writings about love, pride, faith, and survival in rural America during the Great Depression. The Homecoming introduced the Walton family, a 1930s mountain clan living a hardscrabble existence that forces patriarch John Walton (Andrew Duggan) to seek work, far from home, in the city. When John fails to return home, as promised, on Christmas Eve, his iron-willed wife Olivia (Patricia Neal) keeps a lid on their children’s worry. Oldest son John-Boy (Richard Thomas), who privately dreams of becoming a writer but worries about disappointing his parents, is dispatched to find his dad. Graceful yet harder-edged than the subsequent TV series The Waltons (which recast several characters and ran for nine years), The Homecoming reveals, albeit understatedly, much about the pain of poverty even as the family draws strength and closeness through endurance. –Tom Keogh

Set on a Depression Christmas Eve in 1933, this heart-tugging story centers around the Walton. They’re a rural American family preparing to celebrate Christmas together. Though times are tough, love and sharing are abundant in this family. An inspiring tale of love, hope and spirit, this deeply moving story goes far beyond the boundaries of time and place to reach out and touch everyone, everywhere.

A True Holiday Treasure!
“The Homecoming — A Christmas Story” (full on-screen title) was made in 1971, and was the start of CBS’ very successful series, “The Waltons”. And what a great way to start! Patricia Neal gives a powerful performance as Olivia Walton, the head of the very large Walton clan.

This entire cast, in fact, seems ideally suited for his/her role in this program. The true feeling and spirit of the holiday shines through in every single scene of The Homecoming Christmas special, with the producers re-creating a quite realistic feeling that it is indeed Christmas 1933, during the height of The Great Depression. The writing, acting, and the atmosphere are all first-rate.

This is one of those programs that deserves to be watched every Christmas Eve, just like clockwork. Who could forget the great scene at the end of the movie, when John (Daddy Walton, played by Andrew Duggan) relays his encounter with Santa Claus. Watching him tell the kids of how Santa’s sleigh “…went flying across the sky and landed right on top of this house!!”, to me, is one of the best scenes in TV history. Watching that scene, you’d swear those kids were not actors at all — but just wide-eyed excited kids hanging on Dad’s every word. Thank you, Earl Hamner, Jr., for a timeless holiday special!

A Christmas Story (Full-Screen Edition) (1983)

Director Bob Clark’s charming, touching, and very funny adaptation of humorist Jean Shepherd’s nostalgic, autobiographical Yuletide novel, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, remains essential holiday family viewing. Narrated by a man (Shepherd) recalling his childhood, the film looks back at the compulsive efforts of 7-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) as he tries every means possible to acquire his dream Christmas gift–a Daisy-brand Red Ryder repeating BB carbine with a compass mounted in the stock. Problem is, he lives in a Norman Rockwell-esque Midwestern town in the 1940s, where his parents, teachers, and even Santa Claus all warn Ralphie that “he’ll shoot his eye out.” Episodic in nature and seen entirely through the eyes of a child, the film offers a wonderful look at the day-to-day eccentricities that grew out of this conservative period. More interestingly, it cleverly captures childhood urgency, where even the most trivial fantasies or objects become immediate life-or-death necessities. While countless family Christmas movies serve up clichéd situations suffocating with preachy sermons, Clark’s acute eye for detail and odd mixture of warmth, satire, and quirky humor are the reasons why so many viewers have rediscovered this after it initially bombed in the theaters. Sentimental without being syrupy, it’s a true rarity: a holiday movie that adults and children can enjoy equally, for completely different reasons and regardless of the season. –Dave McCoy

This delightfully funny holiday gem tells the story of Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) a 1940’s nine-year-old who pulls out all the stops to obtain the ultimate Christmas present. It’s Christmas time and there’s only one thing on Ralphie Parker’s Christmas list this year: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot, Range Model Air Rifle, but many obstacles stand in the way of his dream because every adult that he confronts keeps telling him he’ll shoot his eye out. Meanwhile The Old Man just got a major award (a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg), and Mom is making sure The Old Man doesn’t come near her turkey, Ralphie’s friend gets his tongue stuck to a flag pole, and Ralphie utters the f-word infront of his father. Christmas is drawing nearer and Ralphie visits Santa at the department store in hopes of asking him for his dream gift. Will he receive it? Let’s hope so.
Ultimate Collector’s Edition mainly for collectors and those who don’t have the movie on DVD/Blu-ray yet
Amazon has combined the reviews for the Blu-ray and standard DVD versions of this set, which aren’t exactly the same in their features. This review is for the Blu-ray version. My review of the standard DVD version is here too, so be sure you’re reading the one you’re interested in.

The movie is excellent, a Christmas classic (see below). Should you upgrade to the new Ultimate edition if you already have the 2006 Blu-ray edition? That depends on how much you like memorabilia. The new edition is a repackaging of the 2006 edition, with a couple new non-DVD extras:

— a collectible retro Christmas cookie tin (the container for the set)
— a strand of leg-lamp Christmas lights (Blu-ray exclusive)

Those look like fun, if you’re into that kind of stuff. Amazon has a photo of the tin and a second photo that shows the tin and the leg-lamp lights.

The Blu-ray DVD won’t be remastered from the previous one. The video quality of the 2006 release was only fair for hi-def, soft with fairly good color, with fair mono sound.

The 2006 Blu-ray didn’t include everything that was on the HD or the 2-disc SD set. Here’s what’s actually included:

— audio commentary by director/co-writer Bob Clark and star Peter Billingsley (Ralphie)
— Another Christmas Story featurette, includes interviews with Clark and a few members of the cast
— Get a Leg Up featurette, about the making and ongoing sale of the (in)famous leg lamp
— A History of the Daisy Red Ryder featurette, on the object of great desire’s actual history
— original theatrical trailer

The features from earlier editions that aren’t included are trivia and decoder games, readings (audio only) from Jean Shepherd, and an ad for the real leg lamp.

Now, about the really good stuff, the movie. A Christmas Story is that odd film that appeals to a cross-section of viewers who often can’t agree on what to watch. Fans of sweet Christmas cheer are happily joined by people with a more jaundiced eye to the holiday. To be sure, the movie leans more to the sweet than the sour, but it has enough edge and good-natured twistedness to please some of our darker Christmas angels too. It conveys a genuinely warm nostalgia and some sharp, sometimes pretense-deflating observations about human nature.

The story is set at some indefinite time around 1940 in an Indiana town approaching the holidays. Young Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants only one thing for Christmas, the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Lightning Loader Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock. (That is, a BB gun, a very particular one.) He plans carefully well in advance how to lay the groundwork for this while avoiding the dreaded rebuff, but almost everyone says it anyway: “You’ll put your eye out!” The relentless struggle for the one true gift develops alongside several other small stories and amusing details, a tongue-on-frozen-pole triple-dog dare, facing the local bully, the notorious leg lamp, the Santa slide, Peking Duck for Christmas, and several others, each memorable in itself.

The actors aren’t very well known, but they’re all just right. There is narration throughout, representing an older Ralphie, done by the originator of the story, Jean Shepard, also just right.

This movie, made in 1983, has gradually become a favorite Christmas classic, now shown in an annual 24-hour Christmas marathon on cable, which attracts a huge number of viewers. If you’ve never seen it, give it a try, even if you have a little Scrooge in you, and you’ll probably enjoy it.

A holiday classic
This movie never gets old….it is one of our holiday traditions. The DVD version doesn’t have any great special features, but I wasn’t expecting it from a movie filmed that long ago.
I love this movie because it is not all sticky sweet. To me, it is entertaining because it is more real than most Christmas Movies.

Miracle on 34th Street (Special Edition) (1947)

Six year old Susan has doubts childhood’s most enduring miracle Santa Clause. Her mother told her the “secret” about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn’t expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special departement stare Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in.

Yes, Susie, there is a Santa Claus.

Delightful Christmas fantasy of a charming old man who believes he is Santa Claus, and the wonderful change he brings to the people around him. This perennial holiday classic is on many short-lists of the all time great Christmas movies. The film just oozes with warm-hearted humor. Very young Natalie Wood sparkles as Susan, who learns to stop being so grown up, and enjoy childhood, with all its wide-eyed wonder. Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, and lives the role. He totally connects with the kiddies who visit “Santa” at Macy’s department store. The brief scene with the little Dutch refugee girl is a definite emotional high point in this movie. The combined reaction of relief and wonder in the child’s face as she visits Santa and finds he speaks her language is memorable. Gene Lockhart as the harried judge, and William Frawley as his street-wise political advisor provide the needed comic relief to keep the court-room segments from becoming too overwhelmed by lawyers and their tactics. Even Jack Albertson shows up as an ingenious postal clerk who helps Kringle solve his legal problem. The on-location scenes filmed on the streets of New York assist the viewer in suspending disbelief. An enthusiastic cast, crisp direction by George Seaton, a sentimental holiday message, and great humor make this movie a solid holiday treat for the entire family. Multiple viewing only enriches the rewards. Beware remakes!

I have always loved this film. Simple as it seems, I enjoy it all the time, no matter how many times I see it. I even prefer it to its latter versions. Both the black and white and the color editions are in perfect shape, although I always prefer the black and white version. I can’t think of any disappointment if any buyer purchases this edition.

I hope you enjoy the many kids Christmas stories and maybe one will spark a new tradition in your family celebrations.

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