Monday, December 29, 2014

An "A Christmas Story" Story

Whether they realize it or not, the Chinese restaurants of America all owe a debt of gratitude to the holiday movie A Christmas Story.

About ten years ago my family was sitting around on Christmas Eve, avoiding eye contact with one another as we watched the lights on the tree short out and tried to decide what to have for dinner. Having seen the film a hundred times (at least), I jokingly suggested we go out for Chinese. There were a few weak chuckles (the only kind you'll hear in our family) as everyone thought, "Eh, why not?"

It's been our Christmas Eve tradition ever since. It just doesn't feel like the holidays unless we sit down in our favorite Chinese restaurant and listen to Dad make his "hilarious" joke about why there are never any cats around the place, explain to Mom what's in Sweet/Sour Chicken, and read the Chinese zodiac placemat for the fiftieth time.

Of course in the film Ralphie and his family eat Chinese food on Christmas Day, but whatever. The night before's close enough.

It's not just our family that's adopted this tradition either. This year as we sat in the restaurant eating, a friend of my sister walked by and, totally unprompted, said their family had also been enjoying their annual A Christmas Story Chinese dinner. I've heard many a coworker say the same thing. In just a short time it's become a holiday tradition, like trimming the tree, hanging up stockings, maxing out your credit card and drunkenly telling your boss what you really think of him at the company Christmas party.

I'm positive I'm right about this. After all, six or seven instances is more than enough datum for an accurate scientific poll, right?

So thanks to A Christmas Story for kicking off the first new Yuletide tradition in a couple hundred years. And thanks to you, Chinese restaurant owners of America, for staying open late on a holiday you don't care about in order to cater to customers trying to reenact a movie you've probably never seen. 

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