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“Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Those are the words of an Angel-Second Class named Clarence as he tries to distill for George Bailey one of life’s essential truths. Few movies resonate so powerfully after more than 60 years. But It’s a Wonderful Life is timeless, in large part due to its simplicity, and its universal gems of wisdom.
For me, the essence of this story is conveyed early in George’s dark night of the soul, at the bedside of tiny daughter Zuzu Bailey, who is sick with a fever. She shows her father the flower she won at school. So treasured is this delicate specimen that Zuzu walks home that December day with her coat open to protect her flower from the wind. A few petals fall away. She asks her father to make the flower whole, which he cannot. He places the loose petals in his pocket.
Later, when the angel Clarence gives George a glimpse of what might have been, the petals, and so much more than can be humanly reckoned, are gone. The story that follows is a parable about what matters and what doesn’t. Along the way, there are many lessons to be learned. And for that, George Bailey, we thank you.
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