I always had favorite Christmas movies that I watched every year and in the “before time,” I would have already watched as many of them as I could. Some of them included animated movies about “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and The Island of Misfit Toys.” Even as an adult, it always made me sad when Frosty melted.
It took a while before I decided to give a few of them a try, such as “Elf” and “The Polar Express” and “Bad Santa.” I never was able to watch “National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation.”
When my youngest daughter was a wee one, she always asked “Santa” to leave her a bell from his sleigh. She was already grown the first time I watched The Polar Express and I thought it was so interesting that the little boy ended up with a bell. I mentioned it to her and she said “where do you think I got the idea?” She had never seen the movie but had read the book.
She always got her bell even after she was grown and I made sure never to duplicate one. I started a tradition with her son and he has received a bell from “Santa” every year since he was born.
After I left Loser, if I was feeling particularly blue, I would watch Elf. It really didn’t matter what time of year it was. It just made me feel a little better. I don’t watch it anymore.
My all time favorite Christmas movie was, hands down, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” It used to annoy me that they would show “A Christmas Story” for twenty-four hours straight and show all the other holiday movies almost every night, but not my movie. It was never shown but once and that was usually on Christmas Eve. I eventually bought the movie so that I could watch it anytime I wanted.
I usually watched it alone. For some strange reason, my middle daughter could not stand Jimmy Stewarts’ voice. (It may have been one of those Mary Hart things.) Loser wouldn’t watch it with me because he had met Jimmy Stewart and said that he was an “asshole,” not to mention that the movie represented everything about a man that he was not.
It was on last night but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. It brings back too many memories.
I wonder if my middle daughter will think about me when it’s shown where she lives. In the past, if she noticed that it was going to be on, she made sure to call me and tell me what day and time because she knew that like Christmas, it was something I looked forward to with childlike excitement.
I loved the premise that everybody (with the exception of Mr. Potter) was a good person. I dreamed of living in a similar quaint little town, where everybody knew everybody and nobody ever seemed to be in a bad mood, even when disappointment knocked on their door. None of them had money but they had what we all long for…love, friendship, loyalty and honor.
Mr. Bailey could instruct his son Harry, to have “no gin tonight,” and not have to worry that later, he would find him passed out in some alley or get a call from the local jail. George sacrificed his dreams so that Harry could have an education and chase his own dreams. Never once did George feel “double-crossed” when his chance never came.
Mary looks at the old Granville house and sees happiness and joy and it reminds me of the way I used to look at old abandoned houses. I could see the beauty that was once there.
I was a visionary when it came to that kind of thing. I could see beyond broken staircases, shattered windows and crumbling walls. I had ripped down and put up wallpaper. I had ripped up and put down floors. I had torn down and put up walls.
My effort went mostly unnoticed and is now forgotten, but I always felt like I had brought something back to life.
George and Mary adored their children and they adored each other. They were kind people who never wavered in their affection for each other or their tight-knit community.
The sympathetic support characters, Martini, Mr. Gower, Burt, Ernie, Uncle Billy, Mrs. Bailey and Nick, all serve to round out a “wonderful life,” but Clarence is the one who emerged as my hero.
Uncomplicated and innocent, his goal was to earn his wings. I believed in Angels then and it was perfectly reasonable to me that it would take a very difficult, important task to win them. I used to wish that Clarence was my own guardian angel.
I knew it was all make-believe, born as a book from the mind of Phillip Van Doren Stern, and then brought to the big screen by Frank Capra, but back then I still had silly dreams.
All the major characters in that beloved movie are dead and now live only in memories. Like the characters, life-long traditions and revelry for me are dead and live only in my memories.
I keep my memories tucked away in a safe place and this time of year when I revisit them, I remember my dreams but circumstances changed and my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
I always thought it was going to be “a wonderful life.”