It’s a Wonderful Life

Every year when the wrapping, baking, buying and prepping is done, my husband and I sit down together, take a few deep breaths and watch, It’s a Wonderful Life.  For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie (which I don’t imagine is very many people, but just in case) it’s the story of a man named George Bailey (Jimmy Stuart) who is so despondent that he finds himself on Christmas Eve standing on a bridge ready to take his own life.

As the movie opens one of the first things we hear is the conversation between Clarence, an angel who has yet to receive his wings, and a senior angel who is getting ready to send Clarence to George in order to help convince him to live.

The senior angel tells Clarence that a man on earth needs his help, to which Clarence responds, “Splendid! Is he sick?”

The senior angel then replies, “No, worse. He’s discouraged.”

George is absolutely certain that the world is better off without him and so Clarence decides the best course of action to convince George Bailey not to end his life is to show him what the lives of everyone else around him would have been like had he never been born.  

George is someone who, as a young man, had big plans to do big things but like so many of us, fell into the trappings of day to day life. George thinks he has lived a very small life and makes a difference to no one. However when he’s shown a world in which he had never existed he realizes that one doesn’t need to do ‘big things’ to have a big impact. The ripple effect from his life had a massive effect, and all who had come into contact with him were better off for having known him.

I dearly love this movie and one of my favorite scenes is close to the end when George’s brother, Harry (someone who has just been decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor) raises his glass to his brother and says, “To my brother George, the richest man in town.”

You’d have to watch the entire movie to get why that line is so poignant and if you haven’t seen it I don’t’ want to rob  you of the moment that will surely (if you have a heart at all) give you what Oprah likes to call, ‘the ugly cry’.  I ugly cry at that moment every year even though I know it’s coming.

I really feel this is one of the most profound movies ever made. Not just because it’s a holiday classic, but for its basic truth. The truth that every life matters. Wherever you fall on the socio economic scale or how you fit into this weird, baseless class system we’ve developed. Every life matters.

YOU matter, and don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t.  Think about all of the people you have ever come into contact with. You may have helped people in ways you didn’t even realize. You are too important to exit the stage before your story is finished. If you are thinking of writing ‘the end’ before it’s time then think again. Think of your impact. Think of good old George Bailey.

I know things are difficult at times. I’m right there in the struggle with you. We’re not perfect. We fall, we fail, we lose our way. But never think that you don’t matter, because I assure you that you do and if you can’t see it right now, my Christmas wish for you is that you’ll at least hang on for one more day until you can.

Merry Christmas.

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