Holiday classic's message endures

Every holiday season I am thankful I am able to cozy up around the fire with family and friends and rewatch the holiday classics. Images of Clark Griswold hanging lights, the Kranks getting a tan at the mall and Buddy the Elf eating syrup drenched spaghetti dance through my head like sugar plums of yesteryear.

In the midst of those visions, one movie stands above the rest: “It’s A Wonderful Life.” With all of the colorful wannabes and the passage of time, it is easy to forget how wonderful this movie is and the message it carries with it.

If you don’t know the story, stop reading right now, go to your television and bring some tissues. I will wait. The main character George dreams of great achievement and “getting out of this crummy old town” to exotic destinations. He never achieves any of these goals, leaving him to feel trapped and unsatisfied.

We all feel like George at times, because some aspects of our lives deviate from our expectations. I know that when I am running, I dream of having that perfect race, that moment where all the laps merge into one beautiful pièce de résistance. Then I race and more times than not I don’t have that perfect moment, even though I’ve made improvements and even though at the moment I want nothing more.

Through no fault of his own, George reaches the brink of doing the unthinkable. His guardian angel, Clarence, helps George see the value in his life and all that he has done for the townspeople. He comes back to the town and his wife, Mary, and their children. He understands that the life he has is his best accomplishment — even if it is not the one he dreamt of.

While less dramatic than George’s circumstances, in my life running times matter, but so do those moments of encouragement provided to a teammate in need. Memories of laughing together and grinding through workouts each day will last forever. I remind myself to focus on each meaningful step leading up to the race instead of just the finish line.

This holiday season, I will rewatch “It’s A Wonderful Life,” enjoying the reminder that the most important thing is the journey, the people I share it with and the impact I make along the way. And I will remember to thank the Georges in my life who add so much without realizing it and I hope that you do, too.

— Isabella Terry, a senior at Hinsdale Central, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].