The film is presented in a series of vignettes, with narration provided by the adult Ralphie Parker reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie wanted only one thing for that Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Christmas morning arrives and Ralphie dives into his presents. Although he does receive some presents he enjoys, Ralphie ultimately is disappointed that he did not receive the one thing he wanted more than anything. After it appears all of the presents have been opened, Ralphie’s father, “The Old Man,” directs Ralphie to look at one last present that he had hidden. Ralphie opens it to reveal the Red Ryder gun he wanted.
Ralphie takes the gun outside and fires it at a target perched on a metal sign in the backyard. However, the BB ricochets back at Ralphie and knocks his glasses off. While searching for them, thinking he has indeed shot his eye out, Ralphie accidentally steps on his glasses and breaks them. He lies to his mother that a falling icicle broke his glasses, and she believes him. Ralphie is in bed on Christmas night with his gun by his side. The adult Ralphie narrates that this was the best present he had ever received or would ever receive.