If you know me at all, then you know that for me this really IS the most wonderful time of the year. I’ve been busy with all sorts of
things, many of them holiday. Since the best part is sharing, it’s time to report.
Saturday night we hosted our (usually) annual holiday party. This year we did a potluck, and I personally had a fabulous time. Thanks to all of our creative and talented friends, the food and drink were fantastic, as was the conversation. I made a fool of myself (think of it in the Shakespearian sense and maybe it’s not so bad) with the drink and babble, but it was totally worth it. It was great to see some friends who we don’t get a chance to see very often, too. As we do every year, we’ll try to be better this coming year about keeping up with our friends. I think we’ve made some progress this year! If you’re reading this, you’re probably on our “to see” list! We ended up with a lot of leftovers. If you want some sweets, I’ve got them!
Last weekend Ezra and I joined the crowd at The Brattle for the annual showing of It’s a Wonderful Life. Starbucks was paying for the matinee, so everyone got in free and the theater was indeed packed. I wasn’t sure a packed theater was ideal, I have to admit, since past experience tells me that sometimes big crowds at The Brattle are noisy and just make fun of the film. (Sometimes that makes sense, but often it’s annoying.) I had nothing to worry about, though. It was a great, enthusiastic crowd. They laughed heartily at appropriate points throughout the first half or so and fell silent as the film became a bit more serious. Everyone clapped loudly at the end (at this particular viewing I felt especially like clapping and cheering myself), and I noticed lots of teary eyes when the lights came up.
Pretty much every time I see the film, I notice something new or think about it in a little bit of a new way. Something always strikes me. This time I noticed when one of the bullets the cop aims at George shoots out the S in the Pottersville sign (Ezra had mentioned that to me last year). It also occured to me, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, that George and Mary name their first child after George’s father, Peter Bailey. In a more general way, I was struck this time by how much the film is about selflessness and its rewards. Of course, throughout the film George gives of himself and makes sacrifices for other people. What I hadn’t thought about so much before is that when he asks Clarence to give him his life back at the end, he is again being selfless. By affirming his life, he assures that his family, friends, and the town will still benefit from his gifts. I always used to think that It’s a Wonderful Life was not really strictly a Christmas movie. Yes, the climactic moments happen on Christmas Eve, but it’s about so much more than that. I think though, that I realized with this viewing that it is a perfect Christmas movie, because Christmas to me is about all of the things George does and all of the things he learns. It’s about giving of yourself. The more religious among you might use that as a metaphor. For me, it all goes back to two statements in the film that are shown but never spoken–Clarence’s inscription to George in the copy of Tom Sawyer he gives him, “No Man Is a Failure Who Has Friends,” and the framed statement under Peter Bailey’s portrait at the Building and Loan that says, “You Can Only Take with You That Which You Have Given Away.” Have a tissue.
I’ve watched many of the other holiday movies and shows that I make a point to see every year, though I’m quite frustrated that I missed Rudolph. Sigh… I have watched Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch, along with It’s a Wonderful Life. A Christmas Story and The Bishop’s Wife are still on the to-view list.
Ezra has declared our living room Santa’s workshop. We have the tree in there this year, and I’ve got a gift wrapping station set up. It’s a bit of a… er… work in progress, shall we say. Messy, but festive.
As you likely know, the weather is not cooperating. What is this rain and 50 degrees crap? It’s got exactly 11 days to get its shit together. Accuweather, the darlings, are at least predicting that it won’t get out of the 30s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in State College. Yes, I am checking daily.