I’d like to dedicate this year, and in particular this holiday season, to a guy who is the darling of Christmas movie lovers and has been one of my favorite personas in fiction.
It has been a few years since I’ve viewed the movie, but it doesn’t matter since I have it memorized. From the inaugural scene depicting star constellations “blinking” at one another to indicate their conversation about a single soul on the planet Earth to the final wink directed heavenwards as an entire community sings Auld Lang Syne in unison, I have the entire film of It’s A Wonderful Life memorized.
Down to his unmistakable twang of phrase and deafness in ear, I adore George Bailey and all of the triumphs and struggles he owns in that film. That might make me a bit worthy of ridicule, but I’ll take it.
Lately my life has been less than wonderful. Yes, I know – no one ever said life would be easy or idyllic. While I have always been an optimist, I always have at least a toe on the tundra of reality. But even my optimism has had a tough line to tow in the face of a slew of medical issues this year, living in a home that isn’t mine, being constantly strapped for funds, trying to balance my family life against work commitments, and generally feeling like I’m losing more of me with each passing day. While I will grant any inquiring minds that some of my issues are most definitely white people’s problems, some of them are a bit grander and formidable to my general outlook and faith in myself.
But here’s the thing: I feel that in these past few weeks another force has been at work with the specific purpose of juxtaposition. As badly as I feel about my current state, it seems that every day I am presented with an unmistakable “it could be worse” scenario: families homeless during the holiday due to fires; a local father who opted to take his own son’s life and then his own; a woman losing her sister on Christmas night due to a car accident; an amazing couple missing their chance for parenthood this time because of an adoption falling through; a woman having to watch her mother struggle each day for her life without clear explanations; a man visiting an adult day care center in Marietta with a former employer whose brain and vitality are slowly losing to Alzheimer’s; a mother struggling to provide for her children while they all escape from an abusive father/husband; and on, and on, and on…
This day I literally bow my head in deference to the lives touched by these real-life stories, and I realize that much like my fictional friend George Bailey… I really have had (and have) a wonderful life. There is so much to be thankful for, in spite of some hardships and chronic problems along the way, and if I have to lasso the moon or pocket some petals to get my groove back on, I’ll do what it takes. Toe in the tundra and glass more than half full of that rosy outlook. And yes, you can call me “George.”