On a recent trip to Indiana, I spent some time in Hammond, the hometown of Jean Shepherd, the writer and narrator of A Christmas Story. The person most responsible for planning my trip is a big fan of the movie.
Perhaps the biggest fan ever. This woman likes the movie a lot.
She took me to the Lake Country Visitor’s Center in Hammond, where there is an elaborate, animatronic display of the most famous scenes from the film, complete with a real life Santa Claus and a pile of fake snow for the kids.
The scenes are exceptionally well done. Incredibly detailed. Slightly surreal. A tiny bit creepy.
Jean Shepherd died in 1999 at the age of 78. He led an exceptionally successful life in radio, print, television, and on the stage.
Still, I’m saddened that he didn’t live long enough to see this annual homage to his movie.
Death is the worst.
As a writer and performer, I can only hope that one of my stories becomes beloved enough to live on in some small way like the people of Indiana have done for Shepherd’s film.
Either that or a Matthew Dicks action figure. That would be fine, too.