Merry Christmas, everyone!
As we have been approaching this most blessed and wonderful of holidays, there has been something on my mind.
There are so many of them, for so many different people. From the kind of dinner that is served, to the way the tree is decorated, to the movies we watch, there are different traditions for different people. One of those traditions, in my house, is watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Whether we watch it a few days before, the day before, or the day of Christmas, we always manage to put it on for Christmas. But I started wondering … why? It’s a Wonderful Life is defined as a Christmas movie because of the way it ends: on Christmas Eve. But the message in the story is much clearer. So I would challenge that it’s not so much the holiday that makes a movie a Christmas movie, but what we learn from it.
It’s a Wonderful Life deals with so many real issues in life. From financial struggle, to denying our inner most desires in an act of selflessness, to a generosity beyond a poor man’s normal capacity. Not only that, but it reveals to us that we do have angels on our shoulders, even when we do not feel worthy or even truly believe it.
What makes It’s a Wonderful Life a Christmas movie? Well, it starts in the beginning, really. Barely fifteen minutes into the movie I always find myself in tears. Why? Because of young George Bailey and Mr. Gower. What compelled George Bailey to embrace Mr. Gower, even after the man had hit him? Was it only because Mr. Gower was grieving over the loss of his son? Only because of the near-fatal mistake he’d almost made? No, I would say it wasn’t. Young George Bailey already knew, deeply in his heart, that Mr. Gower was a good man, who would never intentionally do anything to harm another human being. It was Young George’s unconditional, irrevocable, immeasurable love that made him embrace a man who’d just hit him in the head so hard his ear bled. He understood, even in his youth, what grief could do and how a gesture of love and kindness could heal. Even if it was only a hug from a little boy.
And what about young adult George? The adventurous young man who wanted a BIG suitcase to carry with him all across the world. He was a young man with big plans and he swore nothing and no one would get in his way. Yet, at the first sign of trouble in his family and their business, George not only gave up his dreams, he gave those dreams to his little brother. An act of selflessness so rarely seen in anyone. And by doing so, he would touch more lives than he could possibly imagine.
As we continue to follow the story of this extraordinary man into adulthood, married life, and fatherhood, we discover that this man who thinks he has so little, truly has everything in the world. And, in his darkest hour, God even sends an angel to show him what his kindness, love, and generosity has done to shape his world and every person he ever came in contact with.
This is what makes It’s a Wonderful Life a Christmas movie. Though he didn’t realize it, George Bailey expressed the true meaning of Christmas throughout his entire life, throughout every year, not just during the season. In subtle depiction of a life well-lived, George Bailey showed what Christ would want of us, not just as we celebrate His birth, but all year round.
That said, let us strive to embrace those that hurt us, comfort those who treat us badly, love those who persecute us, and pray for those who desert us. For this is what God wishes for our lives.
A life well-lived.
A wonderful life.
Merry Christmas! God bless 🙂