Now it may come as a surprise to some of you out there to learn that there has already been two semi-sequels to the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story. There was Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss (1988) in which a 14-year-old Ralphie looks forward to his first job and The Old Man looks forward to going fishing, and then there was My Summer Story aka It Runs In The Family (1994) which returns to Ralphie’s childhood for more hijinks with the latest neighborhood bully. However, without the original director and cast (especially the irreplaceable Darren McGavin), neither of the two follow-ups come close to achieving the charm of A Christmas Story. Still, being written by Jean Shepherd, author of the original, both still manage to be okay time killers.
So, because I was aware of the two existing semi-sequels, when I first heard that they were making a direct to DVD “official” sequel to A Christmas Story 2, I didn’t have the immediate reaction of “No! Those fudgeheads are going to crap all over my memories!” that a lot of others had. (Only they didn’t say fudge.) After all, Jean Shepherd may be 13 years gone, but he still has plenty of memoirs that have yet to be put to film, so another sequel could prove to be passable.
But now I’ve seen the trailer. And if the people who made this aren’t crapping all over my memories, they’re at least crapping all over my intelligence.
And maybe they’ve left a bit of a stain on my soul as well. Because while I resisted the urge to use the expletives so many others have upon viewing this travesty, I have to confess that I did succumb to the compulsion to wish just a little bit of harm on the filmmakers. Not a lot, mind you, but some. You know, maybe a lingering rash or an embarrassing case of public flatulence. Something.
And that’s wrong, of course. I have to keep reminding myself that even when people commit an atrocious act like producing this film, they are not my enemy. In fact, I don’t really have that many enemies. As Professor Peter Kreeft writes
Who is our enemy? Not Protestants… they are our “separated brethren.” Not Jews… Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ… The same is true of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Quakers. Our enemies are not “the liberals.”… Whatever is good or bad about political liberalism, it’s neither the cause nor the cure of our present spiritual decay… Our enemies are not anti-Catholic bigots who want to crucify us. They are the ones we’re trying to save… Our enemies are not even the media of the culture of death… They too are victims, patients, though on a rampage against the hospital, poisoning other patients… Our enemies are not heretics within the Church, “cafeteria Catholics,” “Kennedy Catholics,” “I Did It My Way” Catholics. They are also our patients, though they are Quislings. They are the victims of our enemy, not our enemy… Our enemies are not theologians in so-called Catholic theology departments who have sold their souls for thirty pieces of scholarship and prefer the plaudits of their peers to the praise of God… Our enemy is not even the few really bad priests and bishops, candidates for Christ’s Millstone of the Month Award, the modern Pharisees. They too are victims, in need of healing.
Who, then, is our enemy? There are two answers. All the saints and popes throughout the Church’s history have given the same two answers, for these answers come from the Word of God on paper in the New Testament and the Word of God in flesh in Jesus Christ. Yet they are not well known. In fact, the first answer is almost never mentioned today. Not once in my life have I ever heard a homily on it, or a lecture by a Catholic theologian. Our enemies are demons. Fallen angels. Evil spirits. So says Jesus Christ… So says St. Peter, the first pope… So says St. Paul… So said Pope Leo the XIII, who received a vision of the 20th century that history has proved terrifyingly true. He saw Satan, at the beginning of time, allowed one century in which to do his worst work, and he chose the 20th…
The second is even more terrifying than the first. There is one nightmare even more terrible than being chased and caught and tortured by the Devil. That is the nightmare of becoming a devil. The horror outside your soul is terrible enough; how can you bear to face the horror inside your soul? What is the horror inside your soul? Sin. All sin is the Devil’s work, though he usually uses the flesh and the world as his instruments. Sin means inviting the Devil in. And we do it. That’s the only reason why he can do his awful work; God won’t let him do it without our free consent. And that’s why the Church is weak and the world is dying: because we are not saints.
And so, I must ask forgiveness for wishing harm to the makers of Christmas Story 2, even a minor harm like a small bedbug infestation. Because they are not my enemies, but only my fellow flawed human beings.
Their movie, on the other hand, is just a thing. And on that I can freely wish a quick trip to the $5 bin at Walmart, and then a much deserved consignment to the landfills of this great country. And that can’t come soon enough.