In the middle of the Christmas holidays, middle-aged Ralph Parker begins reminiscing about the Christmas of 1938. That year he had dreamed of finding a Red Ryder 200-Shot Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle under the Christmas tree on Christmas Day. Everyone he mentions this to, even Santa Claus, responds “You’ll shoot your eye out!”. None-the-less 9-year old Ralphie is determined to see that BB gun under the tree.
xxxxTogether with his little brother Randy, and two friends, Schwartz and Flick, they encounter the school bully Skut Farkas on the way to school. Schwartz gets bullied and later Flick ends up stuck by his tong to a frozen flag pole.
xxxxWhen Ralphie uses a swear-word while helping his father change a flat tire after Christmas tree hunting, his mother washes his mouth out with soap, and we see a fantasy of blind Ralphie coming home to his parents house having been poisoned by the soap.
xxxxThe next day, Ralphie continues barraging his family mailbox with Red Ryder BB gun adds and writes an essay on why he should get one, that receives a C- from Miss Shields.
xxxxMeanwhile, the “Old Man” finally receives a major award; a leg lamp. He insists it be on display, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Parker, who eventually accidentally breaks it while vacuuming.
xxxxWalking home from school Ralphie is disappointed about the decoder pin he just received and upset at the low prospects of getting the BB gun. Farkas throws a snowball at Ralphie and Ralphie snaps, madly punching the bully who gets a bleeding nose. His mother pulls him off and takes him home and then covers for him when “The Old Man” comes home for dinner.
xxxxChristmas Day arrives and there is no sign of the BB gun under the tree…..then the Old Man says there is one more gift….of course it is the Red Ryder 200-Shot Carbine Action Range Model Air Rifle! Ralphie takes it out back to try, a bb ricochets off the fence and shoots out the left lens of his glasses! He makes up a story, his mother buys it and he is off the hook again!
xxxxThe family turkey gets stolen by the next-door neighbours dogs and the family has to go out for Chinese food. In the final scene, mom and the Old Man are cuddling on the couch while Ralphie is upstairs cuddling his gun.