Why Bother Watching a Good Old Christmas Movie?
Given a list of Christmas movies along with their main characters, It’s a Wonderful Life and George Bailey surpass A Christmas Carol and Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Story with Ralphie Parker and Elf with Will Ferrell. For me, George Bailey’s story sends a timeless message worth remembering.
In light of the movie, George Bailey doesn’t fully realize the life he’s lived has actually been a good life until Clarence Oddbody, an angel, shows him something different, a life where he’d never been born. Going back in time, Clarence demonstrates to George that his family and friends would have lived more tragic and unhappy lives without him.
When George realizes that his small, uninteresting and pointless time on earth really did matter, he wants his life back. So instead of jumping off a bridge and bringing an end to his story, he races back home. His wife and four noisy kids greet him with a surprise; a basket full of money to help him recover from the monetary loss that could have put him in jail, and a room full of friends.
But the reason George thought of his life as something small, uninteresting, and pointless was because he compared himself to others.
Unlike Harry, his brother, who enlisted in the army and became a pilot shooting down enemy planes, George, could not enlist. His ear had been damaged when he’d rescued Harry from drowning while sledding on a pond. But, they were both heroes, just at different times and for different reasons.
Then there was George’s best friend Sam Wainwright who invested in plastics and made himself a millionaire. George, on the other hand, had instead invested in the lives of the lower class loaning them money so they could build their own homes. Both Sam and George were investors, but earned different returns.
Then of course there is the villain, Mr. Potter, a vain and heartless business man who George does not want to emulate and Uncle Billy whose scattered brain causes the financial loss that threatens to destroy George’s saving and loans business.
But George does not condemn either of the men, he’s bigger than that. Instead, he extends empathy toward them.
A Timeless Message Worth Remembering
It might be helpful if Clarence Oddbody showed up to help us understand the mystery of how our past lives mattered. Would our friends and family have lived more tragic and unhappy lives without us? And if I don’t compare my life with anyone else’s is it as small, uninteresting and pointless as I think?
Why bother to watch a good old Christmas movie? It might remind us that like George, if we can be content with our life, we’ll see the success of our life. And that is really wonderful.