Have you ever had a moment when you felt just like a specific character in a specific movie scene? Maybe on your wedding day you felt “just like Scarlett O’Hara in that dress”. Maybe when your uncle told that preposterous fish story for the six-millionth time, you felt “just like that poor guy forced to relive the same Groundhog Day over and over”. I think we’ve all had something happen to us in our lives where we felt like another person. It happened to me fairly recently.
I felt like George Bailey.
When The Yankee lost his job, I went into survival mode. It’s become a way of life for us. In all the years we’ve been together, I know for every dollar I earn, every day of relative normality I experience, there will be at least a hundred dollars’ worth of exploded car parts and a week of weirdness so intense my friends think I’m practicing my fiction-writing skills. The more I say, “It really happened!” the harder they all laugh. I’ve tried to be strong, to maintain a sense of humor about the skimpiest birthday and Christmas this side of a Charles Dickens orphanage. I’ve tried to smile. I’ve tried not to worry. I’ve tried to pretend it’s all OK when failure and ruin mocked me just for fun. I really tried, but ...
I’m a terrible actress.
I’ve heard a lot of cliché analogies about friends over the years. I won’t bore you with a litany of groaners, but you know what I mean. I always knew my “friend bank” was small yet fabulous. I just didn’t know how many people counted themselves as account holders.
On a day when my pitiful acting skills had gone into hiding and the stress was choking my soul like an itchy wool noose, my friends showed up. Friends whose Christmases came from the same Charles Dickens orphanage, showed up clothed in generosity that brought tears to my eyes. I told myself I’m not a crier, but I lied. As friend after friend showed up bearing gifts of every imaginable variety, I half-way expected to hear, “Hee haw and Merry Christmas from Sam Wainwright.” I was absolutely overcome. People who I didn’t know had remembered my name much less the details of my situation showed up, gifts in hand, recounting some obscure moment when I had been kind to them. Over the course of months, I was on the receiving end of unparalleled, gratuitous generosity and for a few precious moments, the milk of human kindness flowed with a gurgling freedom of the spirit of Christmas, Christian charity, and goodwill toward men.
In those moments, I made a few promises to myself. First of all, I will pay no attention to the goobers who make fun of me for talking about the spirit of Christmas all year round. It is real in my heart and has been proven real yet again by the generosity bestowed upon me. Second, I will continue to live in survival mode because if I relax at this point, the shock to my system could prove fatal. Third, I will “pay forward” this incredible gift-giving season heaped upon me. I’m pretty sure my large bank of friends would want it that way.
It truly is A Wonderful Life.
© Bertha Grizzly 2012. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.