It’s that time of year where I have a list of Christmas movies that I and most people watch. Although there are several on the list, the most important is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There are some young people who have probably not even seen this classic but it is by far my favorite. A few of the reasons that it may not be as popular in the modern era are as follows. It progresses slowly. There are none of the traditional characters that you hear about in songs regularly. Although it is a Christmas movie, only a small amount of the story has to do with Christmas at all. Despite all of these facts, it is still my favorite because of its enduring messages. Some are said quite plainly but it’s possible that you might have missed a few because they are subtle.
“No man is poor who has friends” – This is the most obvious to viewers of the movie because it is stated very plainly at the end. However throughout the film, George Bailey does not notice all the lives that he has impacted. So he sees himself as a failure, poor and worthless. His main measure for himself is financial and by that measure, he believes he failed. This message is extremely important today and will continue to be. People discount themselves regularly because their self-assessment discounts their true value.
“Greatness in not a solo act” – Mary (Hatch) Bailey is the unsung hero of the film. Why she fell for George when she came back from school is a bit of a mystery in my eyes. However it is evident that she is the support system upon which any success that he has is built. From salvaging their honeymoon, fixing up their rundown house and finally saving George’s financial future twice, Mary is truly the one that makes George who he is. The scene where she is shown as an “old maid” is unlikely. Mary was great and would have made Sam Wainwright or another guy equally great. In my humble opinion, Mary gets slightly overlooked and that’s not just because I have a crush on Donna Reed.
“The hardest person to forgive is yourself” – This one doesn’t slap you in the face but it is there. Whether George Bailey himself, Violet Bick or Uncle Billy; forgiveness is relatively straightforward when it comes to others. Forgiving one’s self for things that were done or left undone is a tricky business. Other people get a little more slack than we generally give to ourselves. Perhaps it is because we know our every thought and action that we are less generous. Or maybe we overestimate our ability to be perfect. Regardless, it is there and forgiving ourselves is usually the right thing to do. Especially when it is something that we would easily forgive another for doing.
Although this movie may not have Santa, claymation or great special effects, it is my perfect Christmas movie. It directly or indirectly reminds people about what is truly important at this or any time of the year. Our time in this world is short and it’s easy to lose focus on the most important things. So these subtle reminders will hopefully keep them at the top of our mind for a little while at least.
Enjoy this time with the people who are important to you!