‘Tis the season for holiday classics and the New York Times’ recent commentary about It’s A Wonderful Life set off a reflexive reaction for me. My family and I used to routinely watch It’s A Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music at Christmas, with what I have grown to realize was an intense sense of longing.
It’s not rocket science. We humans are drawn to stories that reflect us. In It’s A Wonderful Life George Bailey struggles as the underdog and is bound by family obligation (my father, and now my oldest brother, who also is named George), his beautiful wife strives to create a happy, perfect home (my mother), and the kids cower in terror when George flips out under pressure (me and my siblings). And in The Sound of Music, there are 5 girls and 2 boys (just like my family), a strict father who eventually softens (my father), and a governess who swoops in and saves them all with practicality and music (my mother).
My father was a tough guy - not one to say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I love you’ like the father figures in Life and Music. And while I felt very resolved about his death three years ago (thanks to therapy and adjusting my expectations about him) I think there’s still a lot of longing for many of my siblings. If only life wrapped up so tidily and happily as it does in the movies.
Image credit: IMDB