Thursday, 29 November 2012

Merry Christmas, George Bailey

When I was young, one of my favourite times of year was December.  Not only did it mean a break from school, Christmas Eve Appetizer Night, and beautiful Christmas Day surpises and celebrations, it was also the month where my family and I sat back and took in all of the old Christmas Classics.  We watched them all...Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the really old, black and white grainy one.  The one where you can see the camera guy in the reflection of the mirror in Scrooge's bedroom the morning after the ghosts visit him.  We watched All I Want for Christmas and Miracle on 34th St, but my all time favorite is the iconic story of a man named George Bailey, in It's a Wonderful Life  starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reid.

There is nothing about the movie that's hard to like, but one of my favourite scenes involves George, and a young woman named Violet Bick.  She's the fancy girl, beautiful like Marilyn Monroe, turning every head in the town except the one she'd really like - George Bailey. At this point in the movie, George Bailey is finally asking her out. 

GEORGE: Are you game, Vi? Let's make a night of it. Let's go out in the fields and take off our shoes and walk through the grass.  Then we can go up to the falls. It's beautiful up there in the moonlight, and there's a green pool up there, and we can swim in it.  Then we can climb Mount Bedford, and smell the pines, and watch the sunrise against the peaks...we'll stay up there the whole night, and everybody'll be talking and there will be a terrific scandal...

Fortunately for George, Violet turns him down.  But, I always wondered why she did.  I think I would have gone with him, scandal and all - and I'm not even what you would call "out-doorsy".  George Bailey wanted adventure, excitement, and it made me want it too.  I think that he and I would have been friends.

I don't know, maybe it's his continuous self-sacrifice for family and friends, or the lilt in his voice when he speaks. Or possibly telling Mary, as she sits naked in the bushes, that if she called the Police to make him give her back her robe, they'd be on his side anyway, that sticks itself deep in my memories. 

 Or maybe it's fond remembrances of being settled downstairs in front of our roaring wood stove, snuggled up beneath blankets and sharing an over-sized bowl of popcorn while the snow piled ever deeper outside.  Sitting all together we would boo Potter, and shout for Uncle Billy to check his newspaper, cheer Clarence and root for George. It never got old, even after we could all recite the movie practically by heart. It's the kind of memories I want to work to build with my own children, enjoying each other and remembering that each of us is so special, so important, and that we may never really understand the impact that we have on those around us.  

Well George, I'm game.  I imagine I'll be seeing you again this month, some time in the next few weeks, and I look forward to it.

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