I was fifteen the first time I watched the movie. I was at my friend's house, and his parents had it on in the family room. He and his brothers were off doing something or other, so I sat down and was immediately drawn into the story of George Bailey and Beford Falls, NY.
Up to that point, I'd really never paid much attention to older movies. I wasn't super interested in anything that didn't involve my teen idols or more current story lines. But this movie was different - and it changed everything for me.
I think most people know what the movie is about, but in case you don't, let me sum it up for you. *Spoiler Alert* The story is about George Bailey, a good guy who has given up one opportunity after another in an effort to keep everyone else happy, at the expense of what he wants. When we find him, he's had a huge curve ball thrown at him, and the town and his family and friends rally to save him - but not before he gets a chance to see what the world would have been like, had he never been born.
We all feel that way sometimes, don't we? Especially at the holidays, if things aren't going our way. We wonder if people wouldn't be better off if we weren't around - or at least, wouldn't even realize if we were gone. It's a Wonderful Life reminds us that our lives touch others in ways we sometimes don't even realize. It reminds us that everything happens for a reason, and we're right where we're supposed to be.
Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? - ClarenceThat's one of the toughest things to remember - and one of the best lessons we can ever learn. There's nothing more powerful than realizing your life doesn't just matter - it's had a positive impact on people, even if you don't see it.
More than 20 years later, I still watch this movie at least once every holiday season. Every time I do, I cry happy tears when George learns how much his life really means to others.