Having watched Alistair Sim in Scrooge and Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life in the past couple of weeks, I was struck by the symmetry of the two stories.
The horror of knowing that one’s life was not well lived. Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Future and wants the chance to start over again.
In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge was self-centred and embittered. He required the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future to show him how past and present choices lead to a dark future, not for himself but also for people in his circle.
In It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey was selfless and generous, but he too needed a divine visitation. In order to show George what life would be like without him, he was granted the wish of never having been born.
These are ghost stories in a way. There are scenes which are truly chilling – George, as he runs through Pottersville knowing his beloved children do not exist, Scrooge, as he desperately negotiates with the ghost of Christmas future, “I am not the man I was!”
At the heart of both films is the message that generosity of spirit and following the example of Christ, is not foolish or a casual decision, but one in which sacrifice is needed, but oh my, the rewards…
Even a chap as nice as George Bailey needs a reminder of his worth. Clarence gives him a nudge in the right direction.
Scrooge discovered that his openness and generosity rewarded itself in ways his wealth could never have bought – such as the reunion with his nephew Fred, and the true friendship with the Cratchit family in which he was considered a second father to Tiny Tim.
For George Bailey, he finally sees what was there all along – he was wealthy because he had friends and how much poorer the community of Bedford Falls would be without his presence.
Christmas is a difficult time of year for many, many people. Some have embraced the true meaning of Christmas and accepted the meaning offered by babe born in the manger and have hope in the Saviour.
Regardless of what religion you have (or none), if nothing else, please remember this. You are valued, you are loved and as George Bailey and Ebeneezer Scrooge discovered, the world will be poorer without you and your best.