Your life makes a difference

Christmas is a wonderful time for sentiment.
And for me, part of the nostalgia is watching all my favourite movies of the season: “Christmas in Connecticut,” “White Christmas,” “Holiday Inn,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” and “A Christmas Story.”
But as far as inspiration goes, there’s nothing to match the 1946 classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This award-winning Frank Capra film was a hit when first released and has stood the test of time.
Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey and Lionel Barrymore as the greedy, hard-hearted, Scrooge-like character: Mr. Potter.
George Bailey had a tough life. He lost hearing in one ear as a child. Only a few years later, his boss boxed his sore ear in a fit of anger and caused great pain.
Still, this optimistic young man kept alive childhood dreams of doing something big. He was going to go to college, shake the dust of the crummy little town of Bedford Falls, and see the world.
He would build the longest bridges and the tallest skyscrapers.
But every time George was on the verge of leaving, something happened. Finally, it looked like George and his new wife, Mary, were getting away for an adventurous honeymoon.
Then, on their way to the airport, they saw that there was a run on Bailey’s Building and Loan. To save the business and help his community members keep their homes, George gave away all the money he had saved to pay for the trip.
A few years later, when Uncle Willie misplaced $8,000, George took the blame and faced bankruptcy and jail. It was just too much. He finally ended up at the bridge—ready to jump into churning waters.
Clarence, his guardian angel, enters here. Clarence gives the frustrated, despairing young man “a chance to see what the world would be like without you.”
Where there were quiet shops, Christmas lights, and friendly folks in Bedford Falls, George encounters a noisy downtown lined with pawn shops, gentlemen’s clubs, and angry people in poor houses. Bedford Falls is now Pottersville.
Clarence says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.
“When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
George discovers that his brother, Harry, drowned when he was nine because George wasn’t there to save him. And an entire transport of sailors died during the war because Harry wasn’t there to save them.
Clarence says, “You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. You see what a shame it would be to throw it away.”
George returns to his life with fresh appreciation and enthusiasm. Suddenly, the little things that irritated him before make him laugh. He is thankful for everything—the crummy little town, his drafty old house. And even ready to face bankruptcy.
But Mary has rallied family and friends—raising far more money than he needs.
His brother, Harry, who has just received a Congressional Medal of Honor, calls George “the richest man in town.” And the whole town breaks into song!
What if George Bailey had never lived?
And it is so for each of us. We have no idea how many lives we have touched in seen and unseen ways.
So always remember, your life makes a difference. Live it well!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at