Last year, I had the opportunity to finally watch It’s a Wonderful Life. It is a Christmas classic like no other. The first one following World War II. Frank Capra was the director of this beloved classic. It also has James Stewart and Donna Reed in the lead roles.
What many do not know is that it wasn’t well-received in movie theaters when it made its theatrical release in 1947. It is also based on the book “The Greatest Gift” written by Philip Van Doren Stern published in 1944. Prior to its publication, he printed a 24 booklet for friends and loved ones as a Christmas gift. The movie is now a Christmas favorite for many. Every Christmas Eve it is aired on NBC (check your local listings).
The movie tells the story of George Bailey, a businessman in Bedford Falls. He had many dreams and ambitions. However, he had to make sacrifices to help his father and his struggling business from being run to the ground by an avaricious board member named Henry Potter. Eventually, he would take over the business that saw the establishment of a park in his last name’s sake that outcompeted his business rival, Mr. Potter. When Mr. Potter made him an offer for a $20,00 salary job, George share between the lines again that Potter’s intentions were to close Building and Loan business, but George declines the offer.
George goes on to marry Mary Hatch, have a family, and gave the tuition money that he had saved to his brother Harry with the intent that he would take over. By the time World War II broke out, George’s brother joined the Navy and fought in the Pacific theater. Due to a deaf ear because of saving his brother from drowning as a child, George was physically ineligible to serve, yet he did take part in the civilian war effort.
On Christmas Eve 1945, the town prepares to give George’s brother a hero’s welcome after receiving the Medal of Honor for his actions in saving soldiers from a kamikaze attack. Meanwhile, George runs into an $8,000 deficit that must be paid. As his uncle goes to the bank to pay it off, the money goes missing only to land in the hands of Mr. Potter. Desperate and in a tough spot, George gets frustrated and berates his family.
He retreats to a bridge with the intention of committing suicide. He meets Clarence an angel who is looking to earn his wings. George jumps into the river to save him. Yet, Clarence saved George from suicide. He became an answer to George’s prayer on the bridge. Clarence shows him what life would be like without him. He sees the alternate reality that takes place without his existence. In the end, Clarence showed George that he lived “a wonderful life”.
One of my favorite characters in this movie is Clarence. Clarence had some impactful lines that speak to the heart. Here are just three of them.
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. And when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
This is the one from Clarence that really stands out to me. Sometimes we take for granted how much life is worth living. We tend to say things we don’t mean like wishing we never existed. Yes, life is filled with curveballs, but we must make the best of it as we ask for God’s help. Life doesn't have to be perfect. George had many dreams and ambitions, but he had to sacrifice so much to help others.
“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”
George was able to get through his big predicament with the help of his family and friends.
Another quote that is profoundly said by Clarence is, “You’ve been given a great gift, George, a chance to see what the world would be like without you.”
This quote can hit us between the eyes. Life is precious and we never know what it will be like without our existence. Things may not go as planned, but God will laugh at them and would want us to strive for something better.
Indeed, it is a wonderful life given to us by God. Live it. Cherish it.