During the Christmas season, one of my favorite things to do is watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. For me, it’s just not Christmas without George Bailey and Clarence the Angel.
If you’ve never seen the movie, it tells the story of a despondent man who contemplates suicide, believing the world would have been better off without him. His guardian angel-in-training, Clarence, comes to earth to give him the opportunity to see what the world would have been like had he never been born.
George is skeptical as he and Clarence have a series of odd interactions with family and friends who seem not to recognize George or remember anything about his involvement in their lives. George’s entire world seems turned upside down, but soon he finally believes that Clarence is really an angel and that he, in fact, is seeing a world without George Bailey.
In the movie’s pivotal moment, George and Clarence are standing at the tombstone of George’s younger brother, Harry Bailey. As a child, Harry Bailey fell through the ice while he and friend were sledding; George saved his life. Harry Bailey grew up, got married, and went on to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor after saving the lives of men on a transport ship in the war.
And yet as George brushes away the snow on the headstone, he see that the death date shows that Harry died as a child. George is in disbelief, insisting that it’s a mistake. Clarence explains:
Clarence: Your brother Harry broke through the ice and drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey: That’s a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport!
Clarence: Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry
Clarence sums up the point of the movie when he says, “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?”
It’s interesting to think sometime about how many people you interact with every day. I took some time to think about who I’d interacted with yesterday. Turns out, more people than I’d realized:
- The cashier and cart guys at the grocery store;
- a woman I kept running into at the store who was perpetually blocking the aisles and apologizing for it;
- a stock clerk;
- the staff at the pet store;
- the girl who waited on my at Tim Hortons, along with the rest of the staff who waved from behind the counter;
- my husband before he went to work;
- my daughter on the phone;
- and scads of people online.
But if you’d asked me who I saw yesterday, I probably would have told you “No one”.
The point of this post was to get people thinking about how many people we actually interact with every day – because every single one of those interactions changes both people in some way.
I’d love for you to join me for this little adventure in 2014, to think about what it means to love your neighbor, put out positive energy, do random acts of kindness, or just be nice.