Monday, December 20, 2010

It IS a Wonderful Life

At the holiday season, many people have a favorite holiday movie they like to watch, like Miracle on 34th Street,National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,the Charlie Brown Christmas Movie, or Elf. It is a fun tradition to watch them again every year, and share the experience with a loved one or two. My favorite is the 1946 Frank Capra classic,It's a Wonderful Life. There are so many valuable lessons in that movie about what is really important in our lives. The movie is based on a short story, The Greatest Gift, by Phillip Van Doren Stern.

In the movie,It's a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart plays a compassionate, but despairing businessman who gets helped by an angel to see what life would have been like if he had never existed. Stewart gets to see the impact on his wife, Donna Reed, his brother, and the community he lives in, if he had not been present. In the end, Stewarts' whole town comes together to help Stewart and his family solve their financial crisis on Christmas Eve.There are tears all around (including my family room) as the touching scene evolves. You can see on Stewart's face the love and deep tenderness and appreciation he feels for his family and friends.

What an appropriate reframe for each of us this holiday season. How essential it seems to not hyperfocus on gifts, lists, or the house being perfect. Every holiday season, no matter the economy, or health challenges, or even loss, there is still much to be appreciative of. What a wonderful time to write or express to those you love how much they mean to you, or what your life would be missing without them in it. It might be the most valuable gift you can give.

Too often, as life gets hectic, we focus on the negative, or what we don't have that we want.In the end, its not about stuff.It's the people in our lives, and our warm memories of our experiences with them, that matter.Being really present with your family or friends this season is the key; slowing down to share some relaxed time together and soak in the feelings of warmth and connection. It occured to me after visiting my elderly grandmother one night this week how much each of us can do to listen to others' stories and reach out to those who don't have the health or ability to connect deeply very often,or get a warm smile or a hug. Perhaps you can think of someone who could use your reaching out to them at this holiday season.Pretty much everyone can be touched by a strangers' sincere smile amid the holiday hustle.

In closing, I borrow from Desiderata, which teaches us "...In the noisy confusion of life, keep your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Strive to be happy".It is, truly, a wonderful life as long as we are here to experience and share it with others. Don't let your love and caring go unexpressed, or miss out on the important things by obsessing on the stupid stuff.I am wishing a Happy New Year to my valued readers!

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