One of my favorite Christmas movies — well, maybe any time movie — is It’s a Wonderful Life.
I grew up on the movie and I’ll admit, after a marathon loop one Christmas in my formative years, I sort of got tired of it. But after we got married — believe it or not Karen had never watched the film — it became a Christmas viewing staple along with Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (the original, non-colorized version), Christmas Story and in later years, Christmas Vacation and The Preacher’s Wife. We’ll be watching a few of those while on respite in Maine.
Of course, fictional Bedford Falls has a lot of similarities to Seneca Falls, NY, the largest village [at least it was until it dissolved into the town of the same name] in my neck of the woods, Seneca County in the Finger Lakes. Each year there is a huge celebration that brings visitors from near and far to the transformed village of Bedford Falls … including the Bailey sisters (Zuzu — Carolyn Grimes — and Janie — Carol Coombs). There is a museum in town that focuses strictly on the Frank Capra’s film, which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the similarities between Bedford Falls and Seneca Falls.
It isn’t the sentimentality of the film that grabs you. George Bailey was just an average guy trying to better his life when life gets in the way.
My favorite scene is when George wanders out — on Christmas Eve — into the dark night, heading for Martini’s Italian restaurant and bar. Seated at the bar, he drinks heavily and utters a prayer for help that is heard up above: “Dear Father, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, oh God.” Near him at the bar is Mr. Welch, husband of Zuzu’s school teacher. He angrily punches George in the mouth, and explains how his wife cried for an hour after George screamed at her on the phone. Sporting a bloody lip, George mumbles cynically: “That’s what you get for praying.”
Enter Clarence. He was the answer to George’s prayer. Forget the bells and angels’ wings, let’s go the heart of It’s a Wonderful Life. Every life is important and touches others in ways we just plain can’t see. Karen and I “adopted” Clarence as our guardian angel. I would really like to think he would make a perfect guardian angel.
But I digress. This post isn’t about the film.
I don’t usually share conversations generated by my posts. A few weeks ago, however, I was in a reflective mood [a Five Minute Friday assignment with the prompt REFLECT] and scribbled some thoughts about reaching the 500 post milestone. I was not prepared for what came next. The following Friday [okay, Saturday for those of you who are bound by time] was free-thought. We could pick any word and run with it. I was surprised there were few entries specifically on CHRISTMAS, the word I chose for my assignment. So, I set the timer and let my fingers transcribed the thoughts in my head.
Lo and behold, a longtime reader, TamrahJo (https://ballybin.wordpress.com/), replied. “I hope the ‘season’ brings you the peace and joy you have given to others –- I hope that you know, you are not alone in your dispiritedness over what you think the Season is and how it is so often celebrated -– I hope, this Season you truly know, that for big/small, profound or not, YOU, and your writing, thoughts, sharing, faith, grief, experience, have made an impact and gifted my life –-
“Merry Christmas — Father Says — may you know, without a doubt, just now, that you made a huge difference for one life you weren’t even focusing on being there for …”
Wow. Talk about being humbled. I never expected such words … especially from someone I have never met in real life. TamrahJo lives in the sight line of Pike’s Peak and varies her writing to talk about “the Good, Bad and Ludicrous … Examining the Ordinary and Extraordinary.” It’s always a good read.
Which brings us back to REFLECT. In that post I noted, “Overall, I think I have been true to my initial goal … to share my life and values through my words. I tried not to pontificate or proselytize, and I have shunned from commenting on too many topical events. After all, who needs another ‘opinion’ from someone who doesn’t know all the facts.
“But I have tried to lead by example … to let my life reflect my beliefs … to let my words be the wick for the light …”
Or as Clarence stated, “… Each man’s life touches so many other lives …”
Who would have thunk.
Thanks TamrahJo. It IS a wonderful life!
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you. – Goi Nasu