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Posts Tagged ‘It’s a wonderful life’

What makes ones life wonderful?

The other night I came into the bedroom to see hubby watching the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” … without me! So I climbed into the blankets, snuggled up against him, and we watched the last part together. Many years ago it was hubby who introduced this classic to me. And every year since, it has become a part of our Christmas season.

It is a story of looking back, looking at today and looking forward into the future (kind of like Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’). It is a story of hopelessness and of hope. It is a story of redemption.

The movie is focused on George, a man who had always wanted to travel the world. It also tells of his life’s impact on others, not by any one big thing that he did or accomplished, but just by living, and making choices (just like all of us).

In this movie we learn that George never did get to travel the world. He never followed his dream.

To many of us that seems like such a loss, like such a waste. Our society tells us that ‘we can do it’, that ‘if you can dream it you can achieve it’. Even within the Christian culture we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ as well) often believe our dreams and passions are the ways that God reveals our purpose in life, and the outworking of the gifts and talents that He has created us with. When we think this way, we become very dependent on fulfilling our dreams, to accomplish a wonderful life.

But, is it in following our dreams that we can live the wonderful life?

For George, his realization of his wonderful life came from the blessing of seeing his life, as others saw it. He had indeed had a wonderful life. And his wonderful life came from the impact his own life had on all around him, not through his pursuit of his dreams, but through his care for others. And, in the end, they reciprocated … big time.

The final, and most beautiful reminder of what it is that makes a life wonderful life, is when George reads the inscription his angel-friend Clarence writes in a book for him, “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

It is not in achieving a dream that we have a wonderful (or, dare I say, wonderfilled) life, but in sharing our life with others who we can call friends.

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One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is watch holiday movies. They generally provide joyful entertainment and a fun thing to do with family and friends. On a free evening in December (if you can find one on your calendar) there is nothing better than making popcorn, popping a movie on and snuggling up with hubby, the kids, or friends (or the beast).

I did a little inventory of our Christmas movie collection, and decided on my favorite ones (in random order)!

Elf

This movie, about Buddy the Elf, can be best summed up with his own words, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” And sing Buddy does! He also loves to eat sugary things (even pre-chewed gum in public places). He was a stow away in Santa’s bag one year, and grew up at the North Pole. This movie is full of humor, sentiment and changes in people’s attitudes that can only be summed up with one word … redemption!

Polar Express

Oh, this movie was a beautiful re-telling of the book by Chris Van Allsburg. The illustrations are the fanciful combination of animation and realism that makes you unsure if you are seeing a real person or an illustration. It is a dream about a boy and the children he meets on a train. This boy (the narrator, as well) has begun to question the belief in Santa. But really, it is not just Santa that he has ceased to believe in, it is also a belief in himself. This movie cries … redemption!

It’s a Wonderful Life

Oh the story of the life of George Baily … a true Christmas classic! George’s life is told just before calamity ensues, and he contemplates suicide as a last resort. He feels that everyone around him would be better off if he were never born. As Clarence the angel shows him what life would indeed be like without him, he grows to understand that his life is, indeed, wonderful. A great story of redemption!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” … I bet you are trying to remember the words of the next line! Oh how mean old Mr. Grinch is! He is out to ruin the entire Christmas season for all the Whos in Whoville by stealing their gifts, and decorations, and lights, and even their roast beast. In the end, Mr. Grinch gets (emotional) surgery, thanks to Cindy Lou Who, that enlarges his heart three sizes, when he learns that “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” And, you guessed it, his view of Christmas was redeemed!

A Christmas Carol

Now hubby would say there is only one true version of Dickens A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim, 1951 sans color version), but I am fond of any of them. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy, lonely, cranky, stingy, mean-spirited, hard-hearted, tightfist. He spends his Christmas Eve dreaming of the past, the present and the future. Through his trips down memory (and prophetic) lanes, he realizes what he has been missing out on … life, and being part of the lives of others. He mainly learns that it is not too late to change (redemption).

Family Man

I just watched this one … and it is one I had forgotten how much I love. Jack (Nicholas Cage) is a most successful man on Wall Street, with all of the trimmings that wrap a life of wealth … including a lack of real relationships. Then he meets a man who volunteers him for reality boot camp, and he awakes into a suburban home, complete with  drooling dog, diapered son, interesting inlaws, and a job as a tire salesman. In this new life he is married to Kate, the fiance from the past that he never married, because he chose his career advancements over her. Jack goes through amazing transformations, and learns deeply about love … in a redemptive sort of way.

Love Affair (1994 & 1939)/An Affair to Remember (1957)

Last, but definitely not least is the movie that was so good in 1939, that is was re-made two more times. This movie is about Mike and Terry, both engaged, but not in love. When these two meet there is something between them that even chemistry cannot describe. The both make vows to make changes in their lives and meet three months later on top of the Empire State building (if you are thinking Sleepless in Seattle … same idea). But tragedy happens. Then, on Christmas Eve the two have a chance meeting, which reveals the truth of what changed their goal. That is about all I can say, other than … it is my favorite movie of all time! I love it! I laugh, I cry. To know that change can happen when one has the right motivation inspires thoughts of redemption.

There is one more of my favorite movies, but it requires it’s own blog post, so stay tuned next week!

You might have noticed there is a theme …

All of my favorite movies have at least a hint of someone being redeemed, changed, made new. To me redemption means hope, and hope means a future. That is what I want, not just in my Christmas viewing, but throughout all of my year.

 

 

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