About Christmas TV History

Monday, January 25, 2016

New writing project for 2016

Some of you may already know but I wanted to get everyone into the conversation. I'm busy working on my next writing project--and I'm loving it! I'm writing about my experiences in watching a 24 hour-long marathon of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. If you chuckled when you read that last sentence, then you get it. Some might ask: Why would anyone do that? And that's sort of the point.

A Christmas Story has been broadcast on TV as a 24 hour marathon on Christmas Eve every year since 1997 and the marathon continues to grow in popularity. I like to think I'm like a lot of other people--I usually have it on my television during the holiday but it's a part of the background of activities. Does the network think people watch the whole thing? Should someone watch the whole thing? What will happen if someone is foolish enough--I mean...dedicated to Christmas entertainment enough to watch the whole marathon? I'm more than enough crazy to find out. I hope you're curious enough to follow along.

Extreme television watching is all the rage right now. Many of us already binge-watch streaming shows on their debut, including House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Arrested Development, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, et al.  Earlier this month, a new sitcom Angie Tribeca (starring Rashida Jones) premiered as an overnight marathon on the basic cable network TBS. Even more of us know what is it to indulge in a Twilight Zone, Law & Order, or Friends marathon of episodes. TV viewers crave immersing themselves in a world created by their favorite TV shows--old and new. Upon reflection of my own viewing habits, I have to confess I participate in this trend of viewing all the time. I have the habit of watching anywhere from 4-6 episodes of Law & Order every Sunday morning on TNT. Of course, the individual episodes only hold my attention if I don't have the plot and final verdict memorized at its start. Otherwise, it's just background noise while I seek out a newspaper or read a magazine.

However, A Christmas Story marathon is different.  It's watching the same movie over and over--not a new episode every hour or half-hour. Yet this is the appeal of Christmas entertainment. We tend to watch the same specials and movies year after year--how many times have you tuned in to watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? A Charlie Brown Christmas? It's a Wonderful Life? A Christmas Story? As a culture, we seem to have unique viewing habits and traditions when it comes to Christmas entertainment. I'm going to try to unpack some of this and make sense of it while documenting my 24 hour movie viewing experience. Heaven help me.

If you love reading TV books like I do, then you may recognize that this project takes its inspiration from previous experiments in hyper-viewing including Charles Sopkin's Seven Glorious Days, Seven Fun-Filled Nights (1968), Jack Lechner's Can't Take My Eyes Off of You (2000), and others. Will my sanity be tested while watching the same movie over and over for 24 hours? Will my sanity be tested for even considering watching the same movie over and over for 24 hours? yes and yes.

I'm dying to know what you think. Please leave any brief remarks you have in the comments below. I also have some questions for you--and request any lengthy remarks be sent to my email: [sorry--address removed.]

Please feel free to answer any or all of the questions that you like.

What I'm wondering:
1) Is the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on Dec. 24th-25th each year a part of your holiday tradition? How much of it do you watch? How important is it to your family?

2) What's your favorite scene in A Christmas Story? a scene that stands out? Besides the DVD, do you own any merchandise/decorations tied in to the movie? what are they?

3) Do you think it succeeds as a 24 hour marathon? Why? Does it get better with repeated viewings?

4) What other movie/special would you rather watch as a 24 hour marathon on Christmas Eve? What Christmas-themed movie or special do you think would absolutely fail as a 24 hour marathon?

5) Do you marathon any favorite holiday entertainment with your family at Christmas?

Feel free to speak up. Thanks for your imput!

***Update: The book is entitled The Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story and will be released Oct. 15, 2016. Purchase at www.1701Press.com


  1. 1. We do not have access to the channel that carries the film as a marathon. "A Christmas Story" is always part of our holiday, but usually viewed once or twice.

    2. Favourite scene? Ralphie wailing on Scut Farkus and the aftermath.
    Merchandise: blanket, mug, ornament

    3. I would think it is the sort of movie that holds up well to repeated viewings, but the commercials would drive me totally around the bend.

    4. I think I could handle "Holiday Inn" on a marathon basis because you know an Irving Berlin song is about to come up.

    5. My first thought was "no", but...I have an autistic/developmentally delayed son who always watches things on a loop. This past year it was the Rankin-Bass specials and the year before it was "The Muppet Christmas Carol". My personal experience is that a marathon will drive you crazy and then you reach a point of acceptance and start to go with it.

    1. Thanks for your comments. Good call on the crazy/acceptance/go with it survival tip. That's what I'm expecting too. We'll soon see ;)

  2. I think the reason the marathon is successful isn't that folks are watching it all day, but the fact that they can tune in anytime during the run time and easlily get right back into it, then go about their day.

    1. Thanks for your insight Taylor. You're right--I think there's something to that!

  3. I like the sound of this! I've got a "leg lamp" ornament given to me for a small tree of TV decorations like Snoopy in his airplane, and Lucille Ball, and stuff like that. I also once bought Lifebuoy soap so that I could make jokes about it tasting terrible, but that was a bit of a whim.

    I think the reason A Christmas Story works as a marathon is because it has an episodic structure. It's a Wonderful Life might also work for the same reason, or Meet Me in St. Louis. (In fact, now that I'm thinking of it, A Christmas Carol is episodic as well, and I know people who make a day of watching multiple versions of it...)

    I do have one suggestion for surviving movie and TV marathons, and that's to see if you can find a "workout game" for A Christmas Story. It's like a drinking game, but with sit ups instead of shots. Then, also, maybe do a drinking game a few viewings later.

    1. Hi Jaina. Your suggestions are worth considering--thanks for contributing :)