How many times have you seen the old blank-n-white movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946, Liberty Films)? Despite starring the incomparable Jimmy Stewart, the film was a box office flop. However, in the mid 1970s, it began to be aired on TV, and it’s popularity gained momentum until it became a Christmas classic.
You’re familiar with the storyline, right? Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey who tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but is saved by his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, played by Henry Travers. Clarence is on assignment to miraculously convince George why his life matters. And by doing so, he hopes to finally get his wings!
Famous Angel Quote:
A bell rings while George and his family and friends are singing near the end of the film, and George’s daughter Zuzu exclaims: “Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Knowing that Clarence has finally earned his wings in heaven, George smiles and says: “That’s right, that’s right. Attaboy, Clarence!”
At first, George doesn’t believe that Clarence really is an angel. But when George bitterly says that he wishes he’d never been born, Clarence convinces George that he’s an angel by getting God’s permission to show George what the world would be like without him.
The alternate reality that the film shows is a gloomy one. George learns that, if he hadn’t existed, his loved ones’ lives would be much worse. George’s brother Harry would have died in an accident as a child because George wouldn’t have been there to save him. George’s wife Mary would be a lonely spinster rather than a mother to four loving children. Many other people George loves would suffer as well.
After George sees what life would be like if he had never been born, he drives back to the bridge where he had intended to commit suicide and begs God to let him live again. God answers George’s prayer by having Clarence miraculously return George to the world as if the alternate reality hadn’t happened.
After Clarence convinces George that his life is truly worthwhile, George returns home to discover that the entire community has rallied around him to raise the money needed to avert the building and loan’s crisis, which had been the catalyst for George’s attempted suicide in the first place. George has discovered the miracles of unconditional love and a God-given purpose for his life.
Your Life Matters!
Every Christmas season from 1974 and on, Clarence, the lovable pop culture angel, has been assuring generations of TV watching people that they matter. Hey, it matters that you were born! Life has many ups and downs, but your life still has meaning and purpose. In the end, it’s not about the quantity of things we have, rather the quality of relationships we nurture. Oh, and one more thing: Clarence may also want you to know that the “fat cats” don’t always win!