It's the night before Christmas.
I'm sitting here in the livingroom, listening to all the Christmas songs - religious, traditional, secular - and not minding the fact that I've heard them dozens of times before. The tree - the Best Tree Ever - shines.
Bob is in the kitchen, prepping the brisket to go into the oven (it's supposed to be better the next day, so that's what we're doing.) The pumpkin pie is done. Tomorrow morning: cranberry relish, which goes just fine with brisket; dressing, because Nana's sage dressing is part of my secular Christmas liturgy; Green Slime (tm), a jello-ish thing from Bob's mom, which is now de rigueur for Christmas, and guests look askance at its absence. Go figure.
Tonight we will watch The Snowman, because it is lovely, and because there are whales, possibly narwhals, dancing in the Arctic dark, along with night-flying boys and dancing snow men and snow women.
And then we will watch It's A Wonderful Life, and I will start crying about five minutes in. We watch it every year, and we love it for more reasons than I can easily enumerate.
This year, I think I love it because I love the Baileys.
I love George Bailey and Mary Bailey more each year. They are a team, with a fierce love for each other. They both have anger and love in their hearts. It's easy to see it in George, every time he gives of himself to others, and gives up chance after chance of living what he thought his life should be. It's less easy to see in Mary, but look at how she flares up at George, all frustration and impatience, the night he finally admits how much he loves her. She has the same rage as her husband, and it's undoubtedly one of the things that binds them together.
They don't give in to the anger, or perhaps it's better to say they don't let the anger curdle and mar their souls. They turn it into a tool to fight longer and harder for the things they know are important - brothers, a sorrow-sodden father, frightened Savings and Loan members, widower uncles, children, each other.
They are also full of joy and gleeful laughter, no matter how life tempts them to react with fury to misfortunes. "George Bailey lassos stork!" "My lip's bleedin' Bert!"
Fury and joy bonding two strong individuals to each other, and both of them making things just a little better and brighter for those around them. This Christmas Eve, it's George and Mary I think of; it's their example I want to follow.
Not very Christmas-y perhaps. But it speaks to love, and generosity, and jubilation, and those are part of Christmas, too.
Years ago, I wrote three stories, vignettes arising from It's A Wonderful Life. I proffer them again.
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