A Most Unlikely Christmas Movie

Dr. Gerald Stein

When friends bring up their favorite Christmas movies, I never name the ones they mention.

Not for me, It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol or A Christmas Story, much as I like them all.

Return with me to the night before Christmas, 1955, the only time I ever spent out with my folks on Christmas Eve. Perhaps then you will understand.

I couldn’t have been more excited.

My folks and I were going to the new movie Ulysses starring Kirk Douglas; more famous these days as Michael Douglas’s father, or the father-in-law of Catherine Zeta-Jones.

I would have my parents to myself. My little brothers (much too small to go) were in the charge of grandparents. More remarkable, we would be eating out, a rare treat for the Stein family, where memories of the Great Depression forever justified frugality, stay-at-home meals, and the second-best of everything…

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4 thoughts on “A Most Unlikely Christmas Movie

  1. Gerry,

    Like me, you are a Jew whose family celebrated Christmas, and for the same purpose.




    • Thanks for commenting, Dan. You raise an issue of importance: identity. We live in a time when complex individuals are increasingly categorized in simple (and often stereotyped) ways. By religion, of course; by ethnic background, by national background, by citizenship or its absence, by race, by education, by political leanings, by geographic location within a county, by type of job, etc. Some day maybe I’ll write something more about identity. Thus, while being nominally but not religiously Jewish, one faces one more complexity. The funny thing is, I know more about Christianity than many Christians because I made an effort to study the New Testament and some of the historical and theological/philosophical writings about it and less about Judaism because my parents didn’t observe it and I didn’t live it except as one of many parts of my identity and one that certainly played a big part in how I was perceived by others. Happy New Year to you and Pearl. See you in 2017!


  2. Dr. Harvey Friedson

    A very touching and beautifully written memory of your relationship with your father. Ulysses with Kirk Douglas made a strong impression on me and I suspect I must have seen it with my parents at about the same time. Also, we had protective plastic over our living room furniture (as did almost every one I knew) and lived in a courtyard building in Albany Park (on Sunnyside Ave.) before the move to Roger’s Park. Happy Holidays and a healthy New Year.


    • Thank you, Harvey. I’m surprised we didn’t all suffocate under the plastic covers! Thanks for your good wishes and the same to you and your family.


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