There’s a very famous scene at the end of “It’s A Wonderful Life” where George Bailey busts into his house elated, excited, almost frantic, and certainly overjoyed. He’s a disheveled mess, lip bleeding, wet from the snow, out of breath, but a with grin and an energy that make him feel no pain or cold. He’s looking for his wife Mary to finally tell her how much he loves her, loves their family and that he is spiritually revitalized. She has news of her own to share, that being, that in his and their family’s time of greatest need, all of their friends are on their way to shower him with love and gratitude and little bits of money to make up the amount needed that was stolen from them by Mr. Potter. When George and Mary lay eyes on each other to share their collective great news, their passion explodes off the screen, nearly knocking the kids dangling off him to the ground and makes us both grateful for our loved ones and realize we deserve only that kind of a soulmate in our lives. I can barely write this without tearing up…
The other thing about “It’s A Wonderful Life” is really how somber of a film it is. The first time I saw it was my senior year of high school, in my English class over a week’s time right before the Christmas Break. (As a former high school English teacher, I can tell you how enticing it is to go the movie route right before a vacation, and that it is a-okay in many circumstances to do this.) I remember being perplexed at the choice of film for an English class, but as I got sucked in, I started cursing my parents for never having introduced this movie to me sooner. However, this made perfect sense considering how unsentimental my father is particularly, and how he is an Expert on All Things, Especially Things Deemed Drivel Without Ever Seeing, so I was denied until age 18. Funny enough, its dark tone and emotional complexity is exactly why he would love it. And that is exactly why I love it too.
I am one of the millions who wrestle with the emotional intensity of the holiday season, and often end up getting choked out. I think I have come to realize that because I am so sensitive a person, I cannot bear the lack of reconciliation between the well-intentioned, exorbitant expectations for human goodness and the inevitable failure to meet them. They are only unmet because they are unattainable to begin with. Personally, I have had too many of these failures happen right smack in the middle of the season. My poor heart can’t take it.
My friends, Ol Mossback George Bailey and his lovely wife Mary, they do help me though. Last night, when I got home from my birthday dinner with family and my best friend, I was feeling that familiar tightening in my chest, like the Grinch’s heart, only in reverse. I had a huge lump in my throat as I looked around and was alone. Just alone. So I thought about George Bailey and how he feels so distraught and alone he considers suicide as a way to ease his pain, until he sees the impact his life has had on so many others. I decided to be Mary and call in the cavalry, so I opened my computer and looked at all my birthday greetings, thought about all the voicemails and phone calls, and IM chats and home-cooked meals and even a few hugs, and I realized that even though I wish all of you could have been walking through my door in person, I am truly blessed by the people I have in my life and I guess I had something to do with that. I think things can and will get better, even during the holiday season. They certainly do for George Bailey. Mary just has to stand by with his lasso.
Click “Comments” below to see comments from original FB posts.