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Holiday Movies

[this was originally #70 Life Lessons From Holiday Movies]


I was looking at the calendar the other day, and suddenly it hit me: it’s almost Festivus Season! I also happened to notice Christmas coming up, which I gather is another holiday this month. In an effort to provide a service to my loyal readers, I have been watching Christmas shows. I have discovered some life lessons that we all can use. Reflect on these here, and go out and watch your holiday favorites. You may just find your soul is lifted.

First on my list is the classic “Miracle on 34th Street.” And by the way, let me say something here: When we’re dealing with classic movies, stick with the original. I can’t stand it when people want to tamper with perfection (this also includes colorizing black and white movies, Ted Turner, you goat-kissing trolloc). Anyway, so you remember when Santa was on trial? The little girl was worried about what would happen to Santa, and her mother told her “Faith means believing even when it doesn’t make sense.” And she was right: Santa was saved. Remember that: Sometimes we have to believe even when it doesn’t add up.

Next up is the Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol” (there are several great renditions of this, but the 1951 version with Alister Sim is the definitive one). We all remember the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his miserly ways, and how four ghosts visit him in the night. Scrooge sees his past, his present, and what his future could hold, and he wakes up in the morning a changed man; determined to make amends for all the wrongs he caused. The lesson here is that it is never too late to change your ways, no matter how old you are or what sins you have committed.

“A Christmas Story” shows us that if we’re not careful we can shoot our eyes out. No, seriously, despite the humorous tone and all the misadventures the kid gets into, at the end of the day, no matter how much trouble our family causes us or we cause them, our family is where we come home to, literally. We’d be wise to remember they are not our enemy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two wonderful Christmas cartoons. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” shows us that presents aren’t the most important thing. But greater than that, we learn that it is the size of our heart that matters the most. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is another heart-warming tale that reminds us that before there were Santa and presents, Christmas had another meaning.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the granddaddy of Christmas movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey is the everyman who is always doing for others and can never catch a break. When a family member’s mistake can cost
George his business and send him to jail, George is despondent and wishes he were never born. A guardian angel shows George what life would be like without him in it, and George begins to see the vast impact he’s had on his town, and even the whole country. George regains his joy for life and is once again happy to be alive with great family and friends. The message here is clear: your life matters. No matter how insignificant you feel, you do have an affect on those around you. You touch lives, many of which you will never know about. Don’t despair, for you are important. Don’t ever forget it.

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