George Bailey helps ring in the holiday season for many television-watching families. In fact, It’s a Wonderful Life airs 300 times every year. That’s 300 times viewers experience George Bailey’s search for significance, originally shared on the big screen via legendary director Frank Capra (It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).
Starring James Stewart as George, It's a Wonderful Life has become a Christmas classic since its original theatrical release on December 20, 1946. This holiday favorite charms and delights with classic Christmas scenes, especially its ending, with the cast singing "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing". But, It's a Wonderful Life also teaches us some very valuable lessons about faith, family and what's truly important.
As a young man, George has dreams. He longs for adventure. Leaving Bedford Falls, New York, behind is his plan, until circumstances prevent him from getting on that train out of town. Family life replaces his dream to see the world, and failures at his family’s building and loan business push him over the edge.
Haven’t seen It's a Wonderful Life in a while? Here's the trailer with clips that may jog your memory:
It’s no wonder generations have taken George’s story to heart. His story is one of insecurity redeemed by the love of his family and neighbors. At his lowest, George reaches out, looking for answers through prayer.
After this desperate prayer, George walks to the edge of a bridge and looks into the icy waters below just as an angel named Clarence falls from the sky -- to save him.
Seeing the world without him in it gives George a refreshed perspective on life and his importance in it. This is beautifully shown in the film’s last scene when everyone shows up at George’s house with money to help bail him out of financial trouble that could land him in jail.
It’s through his time with Clarence that George recognizes his worth and the impact he has made on his town. Each of us, to some degree, experience the same insecurity and disappointments. We have failed careers, marriages and unrealized dreams. What’s important to know is that we are loved by God. We are worth an angel intervention. We are worth His Son’s sacrifice, which we remember at Christmas because of His birth in the manger.
Let George’s troubles encourage you this Christmas season to relish in the time you have to celebrate with family and friends. We are all God’s children. Share that love with others this season; and realize it for yourself too.