Yesterday I read a NY Times story about the reporter’s first viewing of the holiday classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This reporter was a teenager in 1981 when his teacher set up the film on the projector for his class to watch one day after school.
That’s kinda how it happened for me—except it was in the 90's, during class, and viewed on VHS.
It was during my senior year Lit class when my teacher first mentioned the film mid-lecture. Everyone served her blank stares. Taking this to mean our memories simply needed jogging, she proceeded to toss out a few freebies:
Teacher: “You know—George Bailey”
Students: [Blink, blink.]
Teacher: “Bedford Falls?”
[Cricket sound effects.]
Teacher: “Lasso the moon?!”
I still remember my teacher’s shock that no one in our class had seen nor heard of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She said something about not being able to live in a world where we haven’t experienced such an enduring holiday tradition. Actually, I’m not sure whether I read it in her aching expression or if she said it out loud. I still wonder if she blamed our lack of exposure to a generation gap or to a socioeconomic one (we were, after all, Black and Latino Catholic school students in inner city Newark).
So with a spirit of community service, my teacher devoted the next few classes to this film’s viewing. And whaddya know—were all touched by the movie!
I’m glad I had that brush with George Bailey. Although, at the time, my family’s holiday tradition was more about singing Christmas carols around the piano, we did have a few film faves. My father adored “Miracle on 34th Street” and my mom loved cracking up at “A Christmas Story.” And, of course, we all enjoyed adaptations of “A Christmas Carol”—like “Scrooged” starring Bill Murray.
Today my favorite holiday movie is “While You Were Sleeping” starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman.
After all, you can never go wrong with a romantic comedy. [wink, wink]
Here's to a fantastic holiday season and a happy new year!