Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's A Wonderful Life is on television tonight. Once again, I am not sure I can bear to watch it.

When I was growing up, this movie was one of the holy trinity of must-see holiday family viewing, along with White Christmas and Boys Town. ("He ain't heavy, he's my brudder" still sends me off into tears.) Once I was grown, a fourth was added which moved to the top of the list, Meet Me In St. Louis, with little Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland in a frosty window-seat trying to forfend inevitable loss.

My little brother Bill was a gifted mimic, and he could do a marvelous Jimmy Stewart. It became our tradition, once we were grown, that he would wake us up Christmas morning by shouting the exultant narration of George Bailey once he has returned from his adventure with Clarence the angel, running home through the town and expressing his gladness at each sight, even that miserable Mr. Potter. It was always a glorious way to start the day.

Christmas now seems to me to be for children, who cannot see the ghosts crowding the room. Judy sang "From now on we all will be together, if the Fates allow." But the Fates moved in on my family, and I'd rather lie low this holiday, quietly remembering them.

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