Throw Ho Ho Back Thursday

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Now it’s just starting to get suspicious. First I was given technology repeatedly as a topic perhaps to feature my aged ignorance, and now I am consistently offered these Throwback opportunities as if I can ONLY really discuss things of bygone years. It’s okay Cassandra–-I am not offended. I know that my age brings a good balance, especially when it comes to the “wisdom” of Wilhelm…

Of course you know that Will went on and on yesterday about this year’s epic movie moments.  Surely there were some…  I will leave current movie critiques to him… Music?  Now that you can leave to me – he is after all an avid Kanye fan–- and well, you know how I feel about Mr. West.

But I am not going to talk about music today… Way too much to say about the topic and, well, what I want to discuss is simply the most EPIC holiday throwback movie in existence. No Will, it is not A Christmas Story or Home Alone. Those are all fine for silly tongue-sticking, crook-whooping humor. But I’m old school, and characters and character is what counts when it comes to a holiday film for me.

I heard rumor that a sequel was being considered for this-–but I am weary. This is the Mona Lisa of holiday films. The David Statue of seasonal entertainment. You don’t mess with this. You don’t attempt to duplicate, recreate or improve on this masterpiece. No one, not even Johnny Depp, can touch Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of the lovable, albeit unsatisfied, character from It’s a Wonderful Life. This 1946 classic, directed by Frank Capra, tells the story of George Bailey. George has always done the right thing in his life, although it usually came at a high cost. He lost his hearing in one ear while saving his brothers life–endured abuse from his boss for telling the truth, lost his chance to escape his small town lot and the list goes on. George finally finds hope for his future when he marries a girl, Mary Hatch, who has loved George since they were children. As kids, Mary was in competition with the tempting and flattering Violet. George is oblivious to both girls until much later.  Violet goes on to get a prince with a chariot and Mary ultimately gets her prince with a heart. (This is one of my favorite scenes).

You just don’t get that kind of acting these days. There would be some kind of special effect that would take away from the subtle nuances that make these characters so memorable.

IMDB.COM sums up the plot of the film in this way:

“An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.”

Have you ever thought about that? How would life be different for those around you if you had never been born? So often we think that because we have not done great thing with our lives, produced an epic work, our life has not counted for much. Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” We can all do that, right? We can all do the small things with love and excellence. We can choose to do the right thing even if it cost us. These days we call silly things sacrifice. Our minor inconveniences become our noble cause. Truly though–if it doesn’t hurt–it is not a sacrifice. It is just your spare change, your spare time.

George gave until it hurt and even then it seemed that the odds were still stacked against him. But it is there, there in the “how can this possibly work out,” in the “I can’t fix this,” in the “this is beyond me!” that magic can happen. It is then when all of the fruits of our labor come into fruition.  The thousands of seeds, seeds we don’t even recall having sown, start to sprout up. Seeds of support and kindness and encouragement; seeds that you never even thought about when they fell to the ground and began to bloom.

Anyway, that all seems really far of topic to It’s a Wonderful Life, but it is not. The reason that this movie has endured is because it brings us all hope. It reminds us to believe for something beyond ourselves, in our good deeds being not for naught. It reminds us that our sacrifices will one day, perhaps at the last minute, bring about a harvest of love in our lives. While there are those who think that their lives matter far more than they really do *cough* Kanye *cough,* each of our lives impacts other people in some way, good or bad.

I’m stepping off my soapbox now, but before I do, let me just encourage you that if you have never (gasp) seen It’s a Wonderful Life, PLEASE do!  There are no explosions from fumbling decorating dads, no turbo powered sleighs and no swearing Santa’s, but there is a story–a story rich in substance and meaning that has been a tradition in my life for as long as I can remember. Like, I have been watching this movie every year for more years than McCauley Culkin has been alive… Yeah I am that old. And yeah, it is that good…

Cover Photo Source:  Brovkina

 Jennifer is Director of Content & Ideation at SJG. I am convinced that every human being is innately creative – Picasso said the key is to remain childlike within the body of a responsible adult, or something along those lines. As the oldest member of this opinionated clan, I feel responsible to share a different perspective. Engage me – I love a good debate!