Happy New Year everyone!
It’s a new year, that means everyone is making resolutions and talking about change. The year is fresh and new and full of all kinds of opportunity. This brings to mind two films about second chances. One is a holiday classic and the other a very similar movie from the 90’s that I always wanted to watch but never did until the day after Christmas this past year.
In ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, George Bailey is a man who has a loving wife and adoring children, but one day decides that everyone would be better off if he had never been born.
“George Bailey has spent his entire life giving of himself to the people of Bedford Falls. He has always longed to travel but never had the opportunity in order to prevent rich skinflint Mr. Potter from taking over the entire town. All that prevents him from doing so is George’s modest building and loan company, which was founded by his generous father. But on Christmas Eve, George’s Uncle Billy loses the business’s $8,000 while intending to deposit it in the bank. Potter finds the misplaced money and hides it from Billy. When the bank examiner discovers the shortage later that night, George realizes that he will be held responsible and sent to jail and the company will collapse, finally allowing Potter to take over the town. Thinking of his wife, their young children, and others he loves will be better off with him dead, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved ones result in a gentle angel named Clarence coming to earth to help George, with the promise of earning his wings. He shows George what things would have been like if he had never been born. In a nightmarish vision in which the Potter-controlled town is sunk in sex and sin, those George loves are either dead, ruined, or miserable. He realizes that he has touched many people in a positive way and that his life has truly been a wonderful one.” (From IMDb)
The second film is ‘The Family Man’. In this movie Nicolas Cage’s character Jack Campbell has “it all”, money, a new woman every night, fast cars, a dream job. Then after a chance meeting with a strange man wakes up in the suburbs with a wife (his College Sweetheart), two kids, a minivan, and a dog. This is like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in reverse.
“Jack Campbell, a successful and talented businessman, is happily living his single life. He has everything, or so he thinks. One day he wakes up in a new life where he didn’t leave his college girlfriend for a London trip. He’s married to Kate, lives in Jersey and has two kids. He, of course, desperately wants his life back for which he has worked 13 years for. He’s president of P. K. Lassiter Investment House and not a tire salesman at Big Ed’s. He drives a Ferrari and not a mini-van that never starts. And most importantly he doesn’t wake up in the morning with kids jumping on the bed. After a bad start, day by day he’s more confident in his new life and starts to see what he’s been missing. Turns out money’s good to have but that’s not everything.” (From IMDb)
I’ve seen ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ so many times, but as I sat watching ‘The Family Man’ I thought about my own life. Maybe because I have three kids, drive a minivan, and know what it is like to wake up everyday and feel like each day is starting to look the same. But I realize how empty my life would be without my family. I want to start out this new year that is full of hope and promise with a thankful spirit and outlook on life. Yeah, somedays do feel like ground hog day, the same laundry, the same small demanding people, the same dishes, the same messes. But you know what, I would be completely lost without all of those things, which makes me thankful that they all exist. So in those moments where I want to complain about another load of laundry, or just life in general I want to stop myself and say a big thank you to God for all that I have been blessed with.