It’s a Wonderful Life, Dammit!

Well, Christmas has come and gone…and I didn’t watch the movie.  I really love Christmas.  I have always adored Jimmy Stewart.  That movie…it just pisses me off. 

I’ve watched all the movies over the years.  I love Miracle on 34th Street.  It just gets me every time I see little Natalie Woods running into the house where Santa left his walking stick.  Seeing Santa pick the bubble gum scraps out of his beard too.  I love the old Bing Crosby movies, and White Christmas is a favorite.  Why is it that I can’t stand “It’s a Wonderful Life”?

I think that it’s because of Jimmy.  He’s been in so many wonderful movies, and played such a variety of characters.  The “dream Dad” of my childhood. Jimmy in the early days, when he played characters who were nice.  I liked that Jimmy played men who were kind, appreciative and gentle.  It’s the high water mark that he created.  I never wanted him to be anything else.

The first time I watched this movie it was so disappointing.  It took a couple of viewings before I realized what was wrong.  By then, I was angry.  Bedford Falls is a nice place. Who was this kid who couldn’t see that; who couldn’t wait to shake the dust off his feet and leave everyone behind?  When it didn’t work out, he was frustrated at not getting that to which he was entitled.  He has to stay behind and run the bank.  Let me tell you, most people wouldn’t whine about being left a business of any kind.  Better a “building and loan” company that driving a honey wagon!  Then he finally gets the girl- the one he’s been Jonesing for all these years while his “buddy” has been dating her.  They renovate a big old house and fill it with these great kids.  He’s the big man around town.  The bank president with a heart.  Helping others… but when the stuff hits the fan he crumbles like a day old donut.  Yells at that poor old drunk uncle.  Yells at his kids (yeah- that hurt to watch every time).  Goes out and spends money he can’t afford getting shit faced drunk because he’s feeling sorry for himself.  It takes a brush with death and a devine visitation to make him realize that his family is really worth having.  You know what?  Not cool.  If I was Mary I’d be royally pissed.  Not just “spit in his coffee pissed”.  More like “wait for him to brush his teeth and ask if that toothbrush tastes funny-cause I cleaned the toilet with it” pissed.  I really don’t like you, George Bailey.  And each year I resist watching the movie.  This year, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t seen a single Christmas movie.  And that makes me sad.  I need to spend some time curled up on the couch with my family.  I need to watch all those old movies.  Christmas is gone, but not quite.  We won’t take the tree down until Epiphany.  I’m working a lot this week, but I think we can find some time for Bing, and Natalie; for Rudolph and Frosty, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas…and maybe even Jimmy.  I know he’s not really George Bailey.  He’s not just me dad-hero, or an actor.  He was a real life dad who probably had his good days and bad.  I guess it’s time for me to forgive you, Jimmy.