The holiday season is upon us, and while our experiences will likely be quite different this year, some holiday traditions will continue. One such tradition for me is to watch one of my favorite movies of all-time, A Christmas Story. You know…the movie that runs on a loop for 24 hours on December 24 and 25. Yeah, that one.
If you are somehow unfamiliar with the movie, it’s the story of Ralphie Parker, and his relentless desire to receive a BB gun for Christmas. But it’s not just any BB gun. He wanted “an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”
From the opening scene in the movie, Ralphie lays eyes on his treasure in the window display at a downtown department store. From that point forward, he seeks allies to help him attain his prize. He first presents his request to his mother, who refuses with the famous line, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Unfazed by this initial setback, he next seeks the assistance of his teacher as he describes the BB gun in great detail in his writing assignment. However, he is flabbergasted when he receives a grade of a C+ on the paper with a note that says, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” In a final act of desperation, he appeals to Santa for the gun, only to hear the big man also respond, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”
As Christmas morning arrives, Ralphie doesn’t have much hope that he will receive the gun. Sure enough, after all of the presents have been unwrapped, the BB gun is nowhere to be found. As he sits on the couch with his parents, his father asks him, “Did you get everything that you wanted for Christmas?” In a failed attempt to conceal his disappointment, Ralphie responds, “Almost.”
But then, the tone in his father’s voice changes. He asks, “Say, what is that over there behind the desk?” Ralphie slowly perks up and looks at his father. After a little more prodding, a smile begins to form on the corners of his mouth. “Why don’t you go and check it out?” With that, Ralphie slowly walks over to the desk. To his amazement, there is one remaining unwrapped gift.
As he pulls the package out from behind the desk and begins to unwrap it, his father can’t conceal his delight in watching his son open the gift. Sure enough, it’s the BB gun that he has wanted so badly. As he pulls it out of the box and loads it, his father continues to giggle like a child himself. It’s a beautiful scene. Until Ralphie almost shoots his eye out!
I’ve seen that movie more times than I can count. I’m guessing you’ve probably seen it once or twice as well. I can’t tell you when I noticed it for the first time, but I learned a profound lesson during one of my viewings of the film. After receiving his prize – the greatest Christmas gift he would ever receive, according to Ralphie himself – we never see him thank his father. The pursuit of this BB gun had consumed him for months, and after losing all hope that he would receive it, his father delivered. And he was delighted to do so. And yet, Ralphie could not offer up a simple thank you to the one who made his joy complete.
During this week of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that I’m often just like Ralphie. As a follower of Jesus Christ, my Heavenly Father has blessed me in so many ways. He has blessed me with wonderful friends and family. He has blessed me with good health. He has blessed me with food and shelter, and smartphones! The list could go on and on. But sadly, I sometimes take those things for granted. Sometimes, I forget to thank Him for those blessings.
And those are just the obvious blessings. When I go to God’s Word, I’m reminded of all of the spiritual blessings that I have received from my Heavenly Father as well. In Colossians 1:12-14, I’m reminded that (1) He has enabled me to share in the inheritance of the saints, (2) He has rescued me from the domain of darkness, (3) He has transferred me into the kingdom of His beloved Son, and (4) He has redeemed me and forgiven my sins. In Romans 5:1, I’m reminded that I have been declared righteous by faith and therefore have peace with God through Christ. In Ephesians 1:13-14, I’m reminded that I have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
I could go on, but you get the idea. God has blessed me the same way He has blessed you, if you are a child of God. He has blessed us with physical blessings, but also with many spiritual blessings. Too many to count, in fact.
This pandemic has taught me many lessons, but one of the biggest is that I had taken many things for granted. Like Ralphie, I had failed to thank my Heavenly Father for His many blessings, large and small. Perhaps the same was true for you too. During this week of Thanksgiving, my hope and prayer for you and I is that we will no longer take His blessings for granted. May we continually give thanks to the Lord, for the great things He has done!
May God bless you, and may you have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Note: The header photo was taken in my living room. Yes, I have the flagpole scene in our Christmas village. I told you, it’s one of my favorite movies!