Before I get started let me just prelude this post with the disclaimer that I have had a glass of wine or two tonight so my thought process may be all over the place. You’ve been warned 🙂
A few weeks ago I read an article posted on the Huffington Post (a strong news source for all of the worldly writers) that just irked me to the core. It was headlined “Did It’s a Wonderful Life Get It Wrong?” and it discussed the possibility of the message of the famed (and my favorite) Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, being one of choosing financial security over following dreams. I thought about what the writer was saying and I could see where he could draw this idea from but after watching the movie again, tonight with my oldest son, I can positively say that he is 100% wrong to even question the moral to this story.
If you’ve lived under a rock for the past 65+ years, the premise behind It’s a Wonderful Life is this: George Bailey wanted to grow up and leave his small town of Bedford Falls to travel the world and become a famous architect. He had no interest in following in his father’s footsteps in running the town’s savings and loan but chose to after his dad unexpectedly died, in order to save the town from a greedy, monopolistic Potter who planned to turn the town into “Pottersville”. One night, on Christmas Eve, George decides to take his own life because he feels that he is worth more dead than alive and prays that he was never born. In response to George’s desperation, he is met by an angel trying to get his wings who has been tasked with changing George’s mind. He goes through George’s life to show him how different the world would be had George never been born. Seeing just how much his life has meant, George begs to live and returns to his family a more thankful and less regretful man.
The writer of the Huffington Post article asks, ” But what is the cost to George and the rest of us when we let our heart’s desire wither and die?” George made a decision based on his family, his town and the people he loved to forgo his heart’s desires in order to save what mattered the most to him. It had nothing to do with financial security as the writer initially suggested. So what is the cost? In my opinion, nothing. It’s a small cost to choose what matters most and had George Bailey decided, selfishly, to follow his dreams in opposition to saving his town, he would have spent the rest of his life regretting what he could have done for his friends, family and beloved home.
I feel like this is a midwestern sentiment. A feeling of loyalty that only people from small towns could feel but if It’s a Wonderful Life got it wrong, then humanity is lost. If sacrificing for what is important, not your own desires but the people you love, is wrong then Christmas means nothing.
Some fun things I want to note for my remembrance sake:
The other day when I mentioned to Parker that It’s a Wonderful Life was going to be on this week he said, “Oh. What happens again during that part when his brother falls into the ice?” I answered that George Bailey had saved his little brother’s life. Parker said, “And what did the angel show George later?” I answered that the angel showed George his little brother’s grave because had George never been born, his brother would have died that day. I knew where Parker was going with these questions and I could see his mind wandering back to the time he saved Theo from the pool but he didn’t say anything more.
Parker has recently started talking about “girls” with us and so tonight while watching the movie, I asked him, “Would you choose Violet (the bad girl) or Mary (the good girl)?” and before I could even finish my question Parker said, “Mary!” I know it’s silly but it made me happy. 🙂
Once again, Merry Christmas.