For some, an annual viewing (or 12) of A Christmas Story is a holiday tradition. The classic movie provides viewers with a glimpse into what the holidays were like in the good ol’ days, when people understood the true meaning of Christmas: that children deserve to get the firearms they so desire. Just kidding—it’s satire! Or at least, that was part of Sam Kashner’s take in a 2016 Vanity Fair article:
So when A Christmas Story premiered, in 1983, we suddenly had a new kind of holiday movie, one that acknowledged—even relished—the “unbridled avarice,” the commercialism, the disappointments, the hurt feelings, and all-around bad luck that, in reality, often define the merry season. In other words, what real Christmas was like in real families. It brought a bracing blast of satire and realism, wrapped up in a hilarious, pitch-perfect tale of a middle-class family negotiating the perils of Christmas, recalled through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy.
And thanks to the soft focus, warm colors and vintage set design, if nothing else, A Christmas Story is a decent ambient movie to have on in the background while you’re cooking, opening presents or doing other things around the house during the holidays.
This year, like so many others before it, the cable channel TBS will start showing A Christmas Story at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 24th, and run it over and over again (12 times, to be exact) for 24 hours. If you have the TBS app, you can watch it there, too (though will need someone’s cable login info).
And don’t worry, there’s a backup cable option: TNT will also be also be airing 24 hours of A Christmas Story, starting at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 24th. (Plus the TNT app.) But also, cable costs money and isn’t accessible for everyone, so we’ll move on to ways to watch the holiday classic for free.
People without cable don’t have to miss out: there are other ways to watch the 37-year-old movie. First up is the Internet Archive, where not only can you watch the film for free, but it’s a video-taped-from-TV version from 1994, and includes the original ads that ran on TBS.
If you happen to subscribe to Hulu Live or Sling, you’ll be able to catch the TBS and TNT marathons through the streaming service. If you don’t have any of those streaming services and haven’t already used up your free trial periods for all of them, that’s another way to go.