Day 22 - It's a Wonderful Life

If I were a real pessimist, I would tell you that no, it's not a wonderful life. George's life is pretty shitty. He's deaf in one ear, he never gets to travel the world, he never even gets to go to college. He doesn't want to get married, but now he's married with 4 kids. And now, his bumbling uncle has lost 8 grand, it's Christmas Eve, and he's facing criminal charges (for some reason, this always seemed to me to happen very quickly and without thorough investigation). The pessimist version of this movie starts and ends on the bridge. As George himself says, he's worth more dead than alive.

But, I'm not a full-blown pessimist. I'm more of a realist. And realistically, on the surface it's not a wonderful life. It's not terrible, but it seems that George does more to improve the lives around him than he does for himself. And while that's something we always say is important, we still want our lives to be spectacular too.

And, when it does come down to it, if you look at it from the right angle, George's live is pretty damn wonderful. I don't think I could get a town full of people to fill a basket with money for me if I needed it.

Every time I watch this movie, I go through this progression. From pessimist to realist, realist to optimist. I guess that's what is truly great about this film - you live it with George. Life may keep George from his fantastic dreams of exploring the world, but they also introduce him to dreams he never knew he had. Mary, kids, helping Bedford Falls just as his father did.

What really pushes you over the edge from wherever you stand on the state of George's life is the final gift he receives, Clarence's copy of Tom Sawyer with a very important inscription:

As Harry reminds us, George is, on this Christmas Eve, the richest person in Bedford Falls. And no, it's not the basket of money placed before him that makes it so, it's the richness that comes from friends and family who love him. People who support him now, in his time of need, because he was there for them.

And that, kiddos, is really what Christmas is all about. Friends, family, and love. Not money or presents or power. Then again, I am a little annoyed that Potter gets off scott free in the end. He did basically steal 8 grand from the Baileys. Here's hoping his equally deplorable man servant at least beats him when no one's looking.

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