Not so much a book as a collection of short stories that were originally printed in magazines. They're fun to read, and you'd be surprised how much of his actual writings are directly translated to the script.
Why can't jokes have a moral/lesson/platitude to them? I think there is one.
They could have lessons to them, sure. I was a fan of Jean Sheppard's writings before this film came out, and my instinct is that he was a humorist first - any morality plays that might result would be pure happenstance in my opinion.
The father seemed to be causing all the trouble in this film. Wasn't he responsible for two controversial Christmas gifts? Both the leg lamp and the Red Ryder gun? The father is sketchy. When I watched this as a kid, I was freaked out when he went into the furnace to fight it or whatever. What a character.
LOL, yeah, the old man was a sketch. He wasn't *directly* responsible for the lamp though. The lamp was a "major" award he won for winning a newspaper trivia puzzle contest. In one of his stories, Sheppard was more detailed about the contest. Of course, like all his writings, Sheppard clearly exaggerates this, but his genius is that he doesn't go into the absurd. There's that fine line that mustn't be crossed when telling a story, and Sheppard was a master at riding the line between reality and absurdity. I mean, it *could* have happened the way he tells the story, but I honestly doubt it.
Take Santa for instance. Was he really as intimidating as we see on screen or could it be the interpretation of a young boy being overwhelmed by meeting the big guy in person?
BB guns are not dangerous as long as one doesn't intentionally shoot it at someone. It's not more dangerous than a thrown baseball or a sling-shot, and *far* less dangerous a toy than a bicycle is. Look up the stats for both non-fatal bicycle injuries and deaths for those 14 and under. Might surprise you.