The Wonderful Life

Dec 23, 2008

I think this is my last post for a couple days. Being that it’s Christmas and all. I need to unplug and inhale the moment.

Which includes my annual viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I go all soft and mushy for the classic (actually considered naming a daughter Zuzu). I watch it each Christmas, only once. And even though I know every scene by heart, I’m captive to the magic. The romance, frustration and confusion, all leading to George Bailey’s ultimate question: “Wouldn’t everyone be better off without me?”

Did you know movie makers and goers considered “It’s a Wonderful Life” a flop? It made far less at the box office than hoped, and was considered indicative of Capra’s professional decline. In a sense, a failure. Of course now, 62 years after its initial release, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is considered one of the top 100 movies of all time. Proof that what some label a failure, others call a masterpiece.

So what’s the big draw? Why do we love George Bailey and keep coming back for seconds? Because George is an ordinary guy who wants an extraordinary life. The problem is life doesn’t cooperate, despair kicks in, and he starts to think he’s to blame. How long can a guy swim upstream before finally feeling like he shouldn’t have been in the water in the first place? And so he stands on a bridge contemplating a permanent leave of absence.

Enter Clarence. A sub-standard guardian angel with a heart of gold. And the perfect person to remind George that living is measured not in successes and bank rolls and newspaper headlines and dreams realized, but in the real people who fill up the inconsequential moments to make living extraordinary.

That’s it. The tipping point in the movie. The part that draws us in and won’t let the heart go. George still has a debt to pay to Potter, still has the same ole mountain of problems he had before the bridge. But now George’s home is filled with familiar faces, real people who love him and his life in an extraordinary way. And he finally realizes

he is not alone.

And that, my friends, changes everything. No Potter can stand against a love like that. Or, as one guardian angel put it…

“No man is a failure who has friends.”

Thank you, Clarence. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

To all of you who have been the tipping point in my life and changed impossible odds to unparalleled possibilities, now seems a perfect time to say YOU have made mine a Wonderful Life.

Merry Christmas.

With love,



  1. alece

    i have some people who are being my clarence right now. i’m not ready to say “it’s a wonderful life” just yet, and won’t for a long time, but i can say i know i’m not alone.

    i know i’m not alone.

    i needed to say it a second time. it needs to sink deep into my heart.

  2. Heidi

    I love this post.. So SO true. How many times I have been a “George Bailey” desperate and lost and spinning.

    This Christmas, I get to be a “Clarence” a total difference.

    I know that my “George” is going to make it.

    I know it

  3. Jan Parrish

    Very appropriate post – especially in this economic downturn. Have a wonderful Christmas. My life is blessed with you in it.

  4. Michele

    Alece – nope, not alone. not for a nanosecond. say it as many times as necessary, or call me and I’ll tell you!

    Heidi – the clarence moments make the george moments all that much more tolerable, don’t you think? Good for you. Sounds like you’ve already got a beautiful set of wings. 🙂

    Jan – For all the nudges to keep living this year, THANK YOU. Merry Christmas!

  5. Jerolyn

    Great post Michele. This is John’s favortie movie as well and we watch it every year just like you. It is so true what you said. I never cease to be amazed at how God actually involves us in the Clarence moments. His grace and mercy continue to asound me. Merry Christmas!


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