TV alert: this weekend It’s a Wonderful Life is on a couple of times.
It’s one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. It’s the story of a man who has big aspirations in his school years, but through fate of circumstances has to forego his dreams of conquering the world to help save the family’s building and loan association. He marries, has a family, and is continually without money. He sees his friends leave and make fortunes, his brother is a war hero, but this flawed hero, played by Jimmy Stewart , constantly struggles to makes ends meet because he has such a good heart for helping people. His nemesis old man Potter, is the wealthiest man in town owning much of the commercial property and housing, charging outrageous rents, and exacting his pound of flesh wherever he can.
At the crucial point in the movie, Jimmy Stewart’s character has such despair that he believes his life is worth more dead than alive. He claims he wished he was never born. His guardian angel takes him through what the world would be like if he in fact had never been born. In the movie, this man had touched so many lives through his good deeds. He had made a major impact on the community because of the service provided by the building and loan business he had saved from extinction. And in the end he comes to realize that It’s a Wonderful Life. If you never seen the movie or haven’t seen it for a while, I highly recommend it for this season’s viewing.
Here are some reasons why I can watch this movie every year and thoroughly enjoy it even though I’ve seen it all before.
1. My grandfather was in the Savings and Loan Business starting back in the Depression era. He fought this same fight of helping people build their dream homes in good times and bad. After decades of taking care of his customers, and building a great business, he had the satisfaction of a wonderful life filled with friends and family and respect from the communities he helped serve. He was an inspiration to me and the movie is a reminder of what a wonderful life can be.
2. This is the tale of the small businessman doing what’s right for his customers. Monetarily he didn’t feel like he was worth much and for much of the movie had no concept of the impact he was making on the people around him. But at the end, his war hero brother toasted him as “the Richest Man in Town.” Being in business has ups & downs. If you do what’s right, you will be rich in more ways than money.
3. For many salesmen, business owners and workers, this last 12-18 months has been tough. Some people may feel down in the dumps or even a failure over things they can’t control much like Jimmy Stewart in the movie. But the message this movie brings to all who struggle over things they cannot control, is you have an impact on others whether you realize it or not. When the whole town rallies to support this man in his time of crisis, his guardian angel brings it all together “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends”.
As we go into this holiday season and plan for a better new year, let’s remember the struggles of those less fortunate than ourselves. There’s more to life than our business or the wealth we generate from it. We can all make a difference for the betterment of our fellow man by lending a hand to those in need. It will come back to us in ways we do not expect at times we do not expect. Remember, It’s a Wonderful Life.
Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year