As I start, I need to paint a picture for you. Try to picture a 57-year-old, 6'2", 250-plus-pound, green-eyed man sitting on the couch watching the end of "It's a Wonderful Life." As I have grown older, I have often been referred to as burly. I am not sure, but I think burly is a euphemism for large and not in tip-top shape. There is no doubt in my mind that the word burly isn't interchangeable with the terms cut or svelte. Burly might also be thrown my way because I don't exactly warrant the cover of GQ with my usual attire of jeans and flowered shirts. That said, I still think of myself as tough. After all, I am an ex-football player and carpenter, so of course, I have to keep up the strong, rough, and tough image. The one piece of the picture I have yet to paint is the tears running down my cheeks.
It gets me every time. "A toast to my big brother, George, the richest man in town." I hereby admit to the world that the final scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" brings tears to my eyes every single year. After several dozen viewings of the movie, you would think that I could control my feelings, but that's not the case. The "girlie man" in me surfaces without fail.
I am unsure why, but as I quietly wiped my tears this year, my mind took me to the challenging times in our country and the world. Unfortunately, I then started to think of what a political mess we face today and how distressing it has been to watch how our country handles these challenges. Even as I try now to avoid it, I cannot help but compare the movie to what takes place around us. I started thinking about how George Bailey took on Mr. Potter at every turn to do what was right for his friends and neighbors, regardless of his personal desires.
This post-movie journey now has me comparing our politicians and political pundits to Mr. Potter. My comparisons are 100-percent nonpartisan. As the petty bickering and competitiveness bombards us from both sides daily, I can't help but wonder how low this will go. The activity and actions seem to be self-serving and egocentric instead of focusing on solutions to our challenges. The unending rhetoric is about defeating opponents, not solving problems. These thoughts are doing a great deal of damage to my Christmas spirit, and I need to go in a different direction.
As I move farther down this path in an attempt to repair my damaged Christmas spirit, I start to think of the many George Baileys I see everyday. I have been blessed to know many people who understand that the key to happiness it to help others find happiness. These George Bailey types don't live in an egocentric and greedy world. These friends and neighbors reach out and improve the world around them every day. They are involved in a hands-on fashion in improving lives. I try to surround myself with these George Baileys because they get it.
As this challenging year ends, it is important that we commit to teaching the Mr. Potters in our lives what is truly important. If we strive to become more like George Bailey, we can solve many of our challenges and become the richest people in our communities. I wish you a Merry Christmas (or whatever you care to celebrate), and please remember, if you do it right, it's a wonderful life.