There are two movies that I watch every Christmas, and yes they are a bit clichéd – It’s a Wonderful Life and Scrooge (the Albert Finney version and also the Muppet Christmas Carol). There is something magical and rejuvenating about these films. While they are both (all three) “Christmas” movies, Christmas is really the backdrop of the story, an influential setting that has an impact on the central character.
The true magic of Christmas rests not in the contents of wrapping paper, but in the personal reflection that accompanies each quiet Christmas Eve while I accompany Ebenezer, Bob, George, and even old Mr. Potter. It’s funny how each year as they utter the same lines, give the same expressions, and act the same deeds, they still seem to speak to me and my current situation.
Mind you, I have never been, to my knowledge, visited by three spirits, accompanied by an Angel, or haunted by a former partner. However, I look forward to the visit of these friends each year. They bring comfort, judgment, and renewal.
As much as I would love to believe that I have the pure heart of Tiny Tim, or the humility of Bob Cratchit, the truth is that there are times that I am miserly, like Scrooge, or as selfish as Mr. Potter. There are times that I become impatient with the Uncle Billys of the world. There are times that I am unwilling to accept the prosperity that I do have and long for what might have been – as George Bailey does many times until Clarence helps him see what is truly important.
Sometimes, I do take my loved ones (friends and family) for granted.
But here is the magic of the season. Not one of these characters is perfect (I’m sure if he had more screen time, we would see Tiny Tim tripping someone with his crutch. Okay, that might be a stretch.). We are all tested throughout life. Sometimes it is physically. Sometimes economically. Sometimes emotionally. Sometimes spiritually. But throughout those tests, there is a supporting cast.
I think that there is no coincidence that in both of these classics, the main characters are guided not only by their past, but their present and potential future situations. And in both cases, their present situations turned out to be much better than they realized.
So tonight, I look forward to the visit I will receive. I’ll get teary eyed when Tiny Tim’s spot at the table is empty, and when Scrooge appears at the door with Christmas dinner (and Miss Piggy Mrs. Cratchit wants to give him a piece of her mind). I’ll smile a bit when Clarence jumps into the river to save George from himself. I might even sing a little “Buffalo Girls” in my bathrobe.
I’ll get teary eyed again when George returns home to see the whole town gathered to save him and singing off key. And then I will smile when the bell rings and George congratulates Clarence from afar.
The Christmas miracle, to me, is the catharsis that we are afforded each year. We can ignore our past faults, or loathe the present and future that we don’t have, or we can learn to accept who we are and with what we are blessed.
One of Scrooge’s lines still hits hard, “How shall I ever understand this world? There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty, and yet, there is nothing it condemns with such severity as the pursuit of wealth.”
But there is a happy ending if we choose to see it. George’s brother, the military hero, returns home at the end of the movie and gives a toast to his brother, “A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town.”
May we all come to the realization of our own wealth this Christmas season – no matter what we may, or may not, find under a tree.
Merry Christmas, friends. May you find peace, love, and harmony, and share it with those around you. And here you thought I was going to end this with the cheesy Tiny Tim line – “May God bless us. One and all.”
Well, I guess I technically did. Merry Christmas, Poop Deck Community.
For now…Captain Out.
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