It’s Christmas—a day to celebrate with family and friends, stuff your face, exchange gifts and park yourself in front of the TV for some good old fashioned Christmas movies. And if there’s one Christmas movie you should watch today, it has to be THE Christmas movie. I’m talking about the 1946 classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart. This movie may have been made eons before Instagram, flatscreen TVs and iPhones, but it still holds up and feels just a relevant today. Here’s why IAWL will always be my go-to film on Christmas day.
The movie exists because of a Christmas card. Seriously.
Philip Van Doren Stern had been trying to get his short story, entitled The Greatest Gift, to publishers for a long time. But when he had no luck, he gifted the story to his closest friends as a 21-page Christmas card. . . and producer David Hempstead got ahold of it and purchased the movie rights for $10,000. And then, wallah! — It’s A Wonderful Life graced our screens.
Guys. It’s A Wonderful Life LITERALLY STARTED AS A CHRISTMAS CARD. I mean, come on — if that alone doesn’t make it the perfect holiday movie, I don’t know what does. (That’s not true. I have many other reasons, which I shall list right now!)
You can watch it with your family and not feel super awkward. . .
I’m a massive fan of Love Actually, but somehow I always forget about all the nudity and sex scenes — that is, until I’m sitting next to my parents and grandparents while we watch Martin Freeman and Joanna Page awkwardly on top of each other totally naked. It’s A Wonderful Life is the perfect holiday movie to pop in on Christmas Eve when you’re with your family because you don’t have to deal with one of your grandparents saying something sex-related that makes everyone wince.
. . . but it’s also super romantic.
You can watch it with your family without any weirdness, and you can also watch it with your sweetie and swoon when George Bailey tells Mary that he’ll lasso the moon for her (then look at your love and say, “So, what celestial body will you lasso for me?”).
It puts into perspective how much impact one person can have on the entire world.
Remember when Clarence shows George what the world would look like if he were never born? Because George wouldn’t have been there to save his younger brother, Harry, when he fell through the ice at age 9, Harry wasn’t there to save all of the people on a transport during the war. Thus, because George wasn’t there, all of the people on the transport died.
Christmas is just a week before the new year begins, when we’re all putting our lives into perspective and trying to figure out the next steps we want to take to achieve everything we’ve always dreamed of. But while it’s great to plan, It’s A Wonderful Life reminds us that no matter what steps we take, even if our lives don’t turn out as we expected, we’ve changed the world in monumental ways just by existing — and that’s a beautiful thing.
It reminds us that Christmas isn’t about the presents.
We may not all have as much money as Mr. Potter does, but that doesn’t matter. The Baileys had friends and family, and as George Bailey says himself, that makes you much richer than Mr. Potter will ever be. It’s a reminder that, while those gifts you exchanged with your family are fun, what matters more this holiday is spending time with those you love.
Happy holidays, and remember: It really is a wonderful life. <3
(Images via RKO Radio Pictures.)