The Christmas holiday seems to come faster every year. The lights, nativities, and carols all set the mood for baking, buying gifts, and watching favorite Christmas movies. One of my favorites is the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, the adventure-seeking older brother who puts aside his own dreams in order to help out his family. Unfortunately, the family endures many setbacks, but it’s how they deal with them that shapes their character. As well as entertaining, this movie shows us gifts we can give to one another every day.
1. Give the gift of commitment.
Although George has a heart for travel and learning, he remains committed to his work and family. His loyalty to the family business and community is shown through his determination to keep the Bailey Building and Loan open to serve the working-class people of his town who hope to own homes. He doesn’t realize the enormity of his gift of commitment until he finds himself in financial trouble. At times, your work may seem mundane, but your commitment to the ordinary tasks and even the never-ending responsibilities at home are a gift to those around you. Take your commitment one step further and do your tasks without complaint this week.
2. Give the gift of contentment.
Our world is full of pressure to do more, buy more, experience more. Sometimes more can leave you feeling empty. Mary, George’s wife, is content with whatever life deals her — a home that needed much repair, a tight budget, her husband’s deep commitment to his job. In order to enjoy where you are in life, develop an attitude of thankfulness and peace. The next time you’re searching through your closet for an outfit to wear, be grateful for your choices. If you’re only able to catch an extra 15 minutes sleep on the weekend, be thankful for rest. Reflect on your life and all the ways in which you are blessed and write a prayer of thanks for those blessings.
3. Give the gift of friendship.
Life is so busy that sometimes we can’t see beyond our obligations. Friendship is a gift we give and receive from others. In the film, Clarence befriends George and helps him understand the impact he has on his community through his gift of friendship. Your gift of friendship is just as essential to your family and friends. Make a call to a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with and plan a coffee date or dinner to reconnect and build your relationship. Some of your own friends may need you, but don’t know how to ask for help. Reach out to those around you who have a difficult time during the Christmas season and be a connection of support.
4. Give the gift of sharing in awe.
Our lives are full of beautiful moments that leave us breathless. But do we remember to relish in the beauty of simple everyday things? To be grateful for all we enjoy, including life itself? At the end of the movie, George realizes, with the help of Clarence, that life is precious. As he searches for his family, his eyes are opened. “Merry Christmas you wonderful old Building and Loan!” “Look at this wonderful old drafty house!” Can you see your surroundings with new eyes like George did? A beautiful sunset, starry night, or a moving piece of music are all waiting to be noticed. Share the gift of an awe-inspiring moment with someone and help them to drink in the beauty too.
The holiday season can leave you feeling empty and haggard as you search for just the right gift or try to fit holiday events into your schedule. It can be easy to miss the beauty and meaning of this holy season as we go about our busy day-to-day lives. Don’t miss opportunities to give of yourself, which is the best gift of all. Now, grab a bowl of popcorn, and remind yourself once more of what’s important in this wonderful life.