Merry Christmas!

What if you weren’t there? Would anyone notice?

In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey suddenly finds himself not just homeless, but removed from his existence. He was given the rare gift of seeing how his life affected others.

While watching this movie, I try to imagine the events and people I’ve had an impact on. Who is better off because I’m here? I’m sure I’m not the only one who asks those questions. Many people want the encouragement that what they’ve done wasn’t all for nothing.

This heartwarming film, starring James Stewart as George Bailey and Donna Reed as Mary Bailey, has become a Christmas tradition.

A guardian angel named Clarence hasn’t gotten his wings yet, but his last chance depends on George’s look back at what life in Bedford Falls would’ve been without him. The message of how one life affects another comes through clearly.

Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter brings evil to the screen in a way that, even to this day, makes me want to shout out and warn Uncle Billy about him. And the policeman and taxi driver, Bert and Ernie, remind me of the Sesame Street characters every time I see them.

Frank Capra directed this film which won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture. It was also nominated for five Academy Awards. Capra said that of all his films, this was his favorite.

It’s a Wonderful Life was ranked in 2006 by the American Film Institute as the #1 Most Powerful Movie of All Time.

Slightly Dangerous, 1943

This romantic comedy is the story of dark-haired Peggy Evans, played by Lana Turner, who’s a bored woman who does exactly as she’s supposed to until she can’t take it anymore. She proves she can do her job blindfolded to the dismay of her boss. The blindfolded scene was very well done. The full cast and crew list on lists Buster Keaton as a comedy consultant for this film. He may have had something to do with the very entertaining early scenes.

Peggy finds herself making a drastic change so she doesn’t end up unhappy for the rest of her life. So she gets her hair dyed blonde and buys new clothes. It changes her personality and her sense of freedom. She becomes slightly dangerous.

Walter Brennan as Cornelius Burden, father of missing Carol Burden, takes Peggy into his family because he believes she’s the grown-up version of his missing daughter Carol. Dame May Whitty plays Baba, the woman who took care of Carol before she disappeared.

Robert Young is great as Bob Stuart, her manager, who figures out her new life. He gets fired for being too rough on her at work and is seen as the cause of her suicide since all she left of her old life was a note that sounded like a suicide note. In order to get his job back, he must prove that Peggy isn’t dead. He must bring her back to her old life.

Peggy enjoys her made-over life, but hates that she’s taking advantage of innocent people who have suffered. She finds that it’s too hard to confess that she’s not who she seems. How will she make things right?

Who Can Rescue A Child?

It doesn’t take a lot of money to donate toys to homeless shelters at Christmastime. You might even schedule a time to go sing and play with the children there. Years ago as one of the adult leaders of my church’s youth group, I drove our teens to a homeless shelter to sing Christmas carols and play with the kids. Everyone had a great time. The teens learned that giving their time and energy was a lot of fun. The teens also learned that even though they didn’t have a lot of money, they had a home. The trip boosted their gratefulness.

If you need a little encouragement to give an unbudgeted gift this Christmas, join me at Seek God With Me where I’m sharing gift-giving ideas. Anyone can meet a need. Just look around at those near you, and you’ll see someone you can help.

The Bells of St. Mary's, 1945

Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley and Ingrid Bergman as Sister Benedict pair up to battle for control of the leadership of St. Mary’s parochial school. Using prayer, she fights for a new building. She hopes Mr. Bogardus will donate his building, which is still under construction.

There are plenty of songs in this film, as expected. Bing Crosby croons at times, sharing familiar tunes and some new to me. Even Bergman sings at the piano.

The story of Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict is like a boxing match itself. At times, it seems one of them is ahead, then the other wins a victory. Each taking his or her turn until the end. Even the little boys fight, using two schools of thought. The newer boy is commended by Father O’Malley for his promising techniques. But the “loser” of the fight has turned his cheek as instructed by Sister Benedict. After their talk, Sister Benedict decides to train the boy to box correctly and miss any fists that might come against him again. But she’s also got some fights to attend to. Although she’s devoted to children, she continues through the months with a determined attitude for the building next door.

This film won an Academy Award for Best Sound, Recording. Seven other nominations passed them by, including Best Picture. This was the first time a sequel had been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. The first Father O’Malley film, Going My Way, won Best Picture a year earlier. Bing Crosby was nominated for Best Actor in both films, but won for Going My Way. This is remarkable because this was the first time an actor had been nominated for playing the same character in two different movies.

A Reunion of Children

Joseph and his brothers were separated for years because the brothers sold Joseph into slavery. When he saw his brothers again, they didn’t recognize him. So he questioned them and found the answers he sought while they thought he was a stranger.

What would be your quest if you were separated from your family and then had a chance to be reunited with them? What would you want to know or do or see?

Discover what Joseph did for his father and brothers as you join me at Seek God With Me.

The Hucksters, 1947

Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr pair up in this peek into the advertising industry. Gable, as Victor Norman, tries to land a high-salaried advertising job by helping an ad agency’s client get an endorsement from a beautiful war widow. The widow, Deborah Kerr as Kay Dorrance, sees the interaction between her children and Gable which helps her fall for him.

This was Deborah Kerr’s first American film. To help movie-goers pronounce Kerr’s last name correctly, one of the taglines for the film was “Gable’s New Star is Deborah Kerr (rhymes with star).”

Ava Gardner was in several uncredited roles before she was able to play a possible love interest for Clark Gable in this film. She later played a love interest for Clark Gable in the 1952 film Lone Star and in 1953’s Mogambo.

Irene was very busy designing costumes from Ginger Rogers’ gowns in Shall We Dance in 1937 to Doris Day’s gowns in Lover Come Back in 1961. For The Hucksters, Irene supervised the designs of Deborah Kerr’s gowns as well as Ava Gardner’s.

Children Hear From God

Last month at Seek God With Me, I shared the story of Hannah who had wept before God about having children. She persevered in prayer until Eli the priest said her prayers would be answered. She had a son, Samuel, who was to be raised by the priest in the service of God. Eli taught Samuel about living in submission to God.

Join me today at Seek God With Me where I’m sharing the story of Samuel, a story of faith, dedication, and obedience. I think it would do us all some good if we would lie down and listen for God’s voice.