I fell in love with the movie It’s a Wonderful Life when I was just a little girl. Back then, they showed it numerous times during the holiday season, and it’s a safe estimate to say I’ve seen it close to 100 times…so I’m a tad familiar with it. I think most people are familiar with it, too, as well as the main themes of the movie. The ideas of “Each man’s life touches so many other lives” and “No man is a failure who has friends” are the one-two punches of the movie and still so relevant today.
But there’s lots more to be learned in this lovely movie, too—like don’t ride your shovel onto thin ice…a turntable can make one helluva rotisserie…whispering into someone’s deaf ear is a great way to admit your love without having them know it…it’s best to periodically check the floor when dancing…and the valuable tip from Uncle Billy that has served me so well in life: when drunk and in doubt, choose the middle hat.
Indeed, the film is loaded with life lessons, but there’s one in particular that I want to take a moment with, and the title of this post probably already clued you in. Ask Dad. He knows. When George is presented with the problem of delivering what he knows to be deadly “medicine,” he barges into a meeting and attempts to ask his dad what to do. Of course, later in the film you can connect the dots to know that the dad he really needs to ask about his big problems is The Dad of All, but his earthly one is pretty damned important, too. In fact, when George’s dad dies, it ends up shaping the rest of his life.
When I began my love affair with IAWL as a child, I had no idea the parallels that George Bailey and I would have, with a key one being that my dad died just about the same time of life as Peter Bailey left George. His chances to ask his dad disappeared, as did mine.
And, oh, the things I would have loved to ask my dad…Of course, plenty of serious life issues, but lots of others, too. Like how was “Oh, I trust you, it’s just your date that I don’t trust…” supposed to ever even appear fair? And why didn’t you wear shorts except for swimming? And couldn’t you have used another comparison instead of “poodle” when I got that one perm in junior high?
For the years lived without him, lots of questions from my 20s would have begun, “Dad, why do guys…?” and there’d be the specific one that asked, “What do you think of this guy?” In my 30s, I know one question would have been, “How do you like your new grandson?” And now in my 40s, I still find myself wondering, “what would Dad have thought?” about any variety of things.
But all of these questions are no longer possible to ask. So, my friends, I want to encourage you: if you still can, ask Dad—and ask Mom, too. From the silly to the serious, if you don’t ask…you’ll never know. Don’t let them take too many answers with them. After all, it IS a wonderful life, and the more we learn about and love one another, the better.