Christmas time is here! Time to focus on family and helping the less fortunate—assuming you don’t get too swept up in the commercial, materialist, stressful holiday stuff.
I’m Jewish, and Chanukah just isn’t that big of a deal in my family, especially since the kiddies got older.
For me, Christmas has always been associated with movies, not gift exchanging. Like many Jews, growing up my family went to movies on Christmas. And if we weren’t at the movies we spent a lot of time in front of the tube watching films like Home Alone, A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life—over and over.
It’s a Wonderful Life is truly a touching masterpiece. It grounds you, reminding you to appreciate what’s really important in life—loved ones, friends, helping your fellow man.
For those of you who haven’t seen it (not sure how that’s really possible), George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, owns a building and loan and owes a bunch of money to the bank. The money has been “misplaced” because it was actually stolen by the evil Mr. Potter, the owner of the bank. As George ponders suicide in his desperate state, he is granted a wish by an aspiring angel to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. He eventually realizes that he has been immensely important to the lives of countless other people. He remembers how wonderful his family and friends are and decides that even if he goes to jail for his debt to the bank, he’s happy about what he has in his life.
At the end of the movie, George goes home expecting to be taken away in cuffs, but then a miracle happens. All of the people he’s helped over the years come to his aid. They come to his house and give him their own money so he can pay the bank.
Happy ending. He appreciates all the wonderful things he has in his life and now has money to pay back the bank, and even some left over for himself.
But is there a slightly conflicting message to the ending of this touching story? The movie’s conclusion is that money really isn’t important for happiness and meaning in one’s life—it’s the people you love and who love you. Yet still, at the end of the film, it’s money donated by his friends and clients, that solves George’s problem with the bank. Could the film still have had a happy ending if George didn’t get the money from his friends? Perhaps.
Question: Do you like the money donation part of the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life?
Alternative question: What are your favorite Christmas films?
Last Scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life