Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life...

We have a Christmas tradition at my house. Okay, we have a lot of Christmas traditions, like going to my Grandma's in Emery on Christmas Eve to open some gifts, eat, and hang with the family. My Grandma's house is my favorite place in the entire world. I love it. We also let one of "the boys" cook Christmas morning breakfast - giving the women's a break from the unspoken traditional cooking assignments. I've done these few things every Christmas since I was born. I've never spent Christmas anywhere but in Emery - and even though half of the grandchildren are "all growed up" - we still all take a break from our various "lives" and make it to Emery for Christmas. Though we all seem to realize the absence of magic small children bring to Christmas. I'm the oldest grandchild on my mom's side - and the youngest is now 13. It seems like the time has come for simple childhood excitement and faith. Course - that would mean one of the 4 of us "of marriage age" would have to get married. Unfortunately none of us are even remotely close. Ha. All in good time.

There was one person missing this year - my little brother Nick who is serving a LDS mission in Madagascar. We got to talk to him for awhile today - and it improved my life to talk to him about things that are so much bigger, so much more important, than any of my silly stresses and petty concerns. Talking to a missionary serving in a 3rd world country, seeing how much they grow and change, is a humbling experience. It puts things into perspective. It reminds you how much you have - and how much you can give. I have a dream that one year when I have my own little family - we will take everything and anything we would've spent on Christmas and find a way to help someone else - perhaps go to Mexico and help build a school or bring supplies to an orphanage in Northern Africa. There are always ways we can help - and always more we can give.

I got some great things for Christmas - some novels, a cookbook, a crock pot, some movies, and a some perfume. Even better though, I also found a place to live. Finally. Finally after months and months of living out of suitcases and feeling like a lost and lonely transient, considering places appropriately referred to as "The Den of Rape", and feverishly clawing my way back into a "normal existence" - I found a house. A house with a kitchen and a dishwasher. A house with beautiful wood floors, lovely bedrooms, and a fireplace. A house in Holiday near grocery stores and freeway entrances. The best part - it's a house in my price range with lovely girls - one of which owns a PIANO. I know, right? As if finding a adorable house in a good location with a great price and nice roomies isn't enough - I get access to a piano too. And so help me I'll be using it! I'm signing the lease on Monday and will be moving in on January 3rd. I'm so excited, so relieved, and so grateful to have my own room, a kitchen to cook in, and a piano to play on after feeling out of place for so long.

Now - I started out this post talking about Christmas traditions. One other tradition we have on Christmas Eve at my house, after coming back from Grandma's in Emery, is to all gather around the TV and watch Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life." We all love this movie. I get choked up every year. And every year, I learn something new, I notice something different when I watch it that improves my life. This year...I found myself in Jimmy Stewarts character George Bailey. If you aren't familiar with the movie - suffice it to say George Bailey had big dreams. He wanted to go to college, he wanted to "get away" and travel the world. He wanted to be an explorer ever since he was born, and he tried to take every opportunity to make it happen. He scrimped and he saved and he planned. However, through events beyond his control and unforeseen circumstances and obligations, George Bailey never did go to college, or travel the world, or become a great explorer. He stayed in Bedford Falls. He ran his father's business he was trying so desperately to leave. He married and had a family. It wasn't what he had planned. He felt he had tried his best, and lost his dreams. He felt he'd done everything good and right, but was still losing in the end. He felt that the world would've been better had he never been born. However, when his wish was granted and he was shown what the lives of the people he loved, the town he served, would've been like without his influence, it turned out that George Bailey had made a difference - but in effect - his life had turned out exactly how it was SUPPOSED to - even though he thought that it wasn't what he'd wanted. Even though he had planned differently.
"Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" remarked Clarence - George's guardian angel.

The part that taught me this year was George Bailey realizing that though his dreams he thought he always wanted hadn't panned out - that he'd been on the cusp of what he thought he'd wanted - what he thought would make him happy - wasn't what was meant for him at all. That perhaps, there was a very different plan for him. A better plan. Something more than what he dreamed. This year - watching that movie - talking to Nick - and reevaluating what's really important to me and what really DOES matter in the world - made me realize that it really is a wonderful life we are given. It's something that we can share with others - and create real meaning in their lives. Feeling useful, feeling like you MAKE a difference, would be more meaningful than any material Christmas present I could ever receive.


Mike & Emily West said...

Hey Andrea! So, I haven't been bloggin' for a little while and I just read ALL that stuff about the Mormon Mom calendar and all I have to say it you are great! Thank you for all that...what a response you was fascinating to read all that.

Anyway, I also wanted to say that I love this movie too. I feel like I get something new out of it every year.

heidikins said...

I just saw "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time this year, and I actually cried for George Bailey. We are such similar creatures, he and I, and even with all the feel-good warm-fuzzies, I couldn't help but wish for $8,000. Sigh.

Hooray on the new house! And double hooray on the piano!!