Twenty-five years ago I sat in an itchy brown chair in a brown paneled den, flipping through channels to escape the heat of a scorching summer day. I landed on a black-and-white movie that was just beginning, though I didn’t catch the name. Several minutes in, I was hooked.
Some kids were using shovels to sled down a hill, and one of them went too far and plunged into icy water. I had to see what happened next. I was instantly captivated by the scene’s hero, George Bailey. The movie turned out to be It’s a Wonderful Life. It also turned out to be my all-time favorite. Ever.
I can’t think of a movie that I have loved as long or that speaks to me as this movie has. Even then, as an awkward sixth-grader, wondering when boys would ever notice me (and they didn’t for many, many years) and dealing with friendship woes and other social plagues, I could see how life can get the better of you. I could see how a person who has so much doesn’t see the difference he makes every day, and how attitude and loved ones can pull you through life’s rough patches.
I spent an entire afternoon in that chair, running to the bathroom between commercial breaks or bolting to the kitchen for a bag of chips. I didn’t want to miss a second.
I pulled for George Bailey. I learned that sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you expect it to, but you roll with it and make the best of it, just like George Bailey did. He didn’t have much. But he had so much. The gift of family and friends, happiness and good health, and doing good for others. Wealth can’t buy any of that. It didn’t for Mr. Potter.
Each year, when George Bailey sees what a good life he has and runs through the snow-covered streets, I’m there, yelling, “Merry Christmas, George Bailey!” through teary eyes and a lump in my throat because it still moves me. Every year, this movie is a reminder that I have everything I need.
It is a wonderful life. Your family and friends are your riches, and life is what you make of it. That’s what a sixth grader learned on a hot summer day. Merry Christmas, George Bailey.
6 responses to “It Is a Wonderful Life”
Why on earth was “It’s a Wonderful Life” on in the middle of summer?
Cable TV. Who cares? It was great. They wouldn’t do that now, but they did then.
“Every year, this movie is a reminder that I have everything I need.” – very well put. “Things” are much less important that the people in our lives and the memories they help us make. I will make a point of watching It’s a Wonderful Life when it comes around on tv this year.
It’s on NBC this Saturday around here. Yay! Should be everywhere I guess. Check it out. Luckily, I own my very own DVD version and it has some pretty neat tidbits about the making of the movie, and I think also an interview with Jimmy Stewart (just love him!). But I still like to catch it on TV and run to the kitchen during commercials for old time’s sake.
I love that movie. Always have. My husband’s grandfather was Todd Karns, who played Harry Bailey, George Bailey’s brother in the movie. I never had a chance to meet him, as he passed away a couple of years before we married. The movie is even more special to me now.
Pretty cool. Would have been neat to ask him all about making that movie. Are there any family stories floating around about it? Watched it again last night. Still as good as ever.