“It’s a Wonderful Life!”

On the day after Christmas, Joleen and I watched the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life!, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. (Who hasn’t seen it?)

For years, we watched the movie every year (during the Christmas season) but took a break from it for a couple years, until this year. It’s a great movie about legacy and influence.

The movie tells the story of George Bailey, a world explorer wannabe, who spends his life trying to escape the small, struggling town of Bedford Falls. But as various circumstances arise, he never gets the chance to leave.

His family’s business, a building and loan company, struggles to stay in business because of Harry Potter’s (Lionel Barrymore) near monopoly on the town. Toward the end of the movie, George’s uncle Billy loses $8,000 of the company’s money, putting them at risk of losing the business and going to prison.

At that point, George has had enough and decides that everyone, including his family, would be better off if he were dead. But as George is preparing to jump into an icy river, an angel named Clarence dives into the river first, knowing George jump in to save him.

During their conversation afterward, George says he wishes he’d never been born. Clarence gets the bright idea to show George what life would have looked like for others had he not been born. The whole experience eventually leads George to the realization that he did, in fact, have a wonderful life.

Most people want their lives to matter, to have influence. George Bailey thought success meant building cities, traveling the world, and making money. But, as he eventually discovered, success is not just about doing great big things. Success is about making a difference in the lives of the people around you.

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