new york city kid in arkansas
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There’s a nightmare scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George Bailey, a man who always put his desires behind the greater good of his neighbors and fellow citizens, discovers that his humble town of Bedford Falls has been transformed into a loud, violent city called Pottersville, under the leadership of a selfish and rich buffoon who “hates everybody that has anything that he can’t have.” For those of us who have memorized every line of that Christmas classic, it’s an almost unbearable scene. We know goodness will prevail, love will win in the end, but that 20 minutes of George Bailey getting to see the world without him feels like four years.

Every December I pull up my address labels in preparation for Troy’s Christmas card, and every year there are always a few names to delete because of death and divorce and a few names to add because of birth, marriage and new friends. It always pulls at my heartstrings, the way things can change in a year.  Troy is most sentimental about our 25 years worth of ornaments, keeping track of our collection on an old piece of paper in a red hard cover Santa book, reading the list of every single ornament as Huck and I begin hanging them on the tree. He even keeps a ziplock baggie of pine needles from our past trees, sprinkling them onto the new one, hoping to blend in the past with the present. Over Thanksgiving we found a five-year diary that belonged to Troy’s grandma, who began recording little moments of her life in 1942, the year she became pregnant with Troy’s mom.  Each date had space for five years of entries, but the book is sadly empty as she stopped writing sometime in 1943, probably because of the demands of motherhood. “Gene Twyford” was one of the names deleted from my address labels last week, but she also added two antique ornaments to our collection, blending her past with our present.  Troy wrote in the Santa Book: “2016 – Pine cone ornaments – one with cardinals, one with rabbits.  G-ma Gene.”

After watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night, some New York friends made the startling realization that 62 million Americans just voted for Mr. Potter, unimaginably choosing Pottersville over Bedford Falls. Back in mid-July I posted Hilary Clinton’s campaign slogan as my Facebook profile pic, and there it still sits as a reminder, a remnant from the past that will take me into the future.  I’ll put up our ornaments, I’ll sign our cards, and just like last month and many before that, I’ll remember that I’m still with her, I’m still with Standing Rock, I’m still with the immigrant, the poor, the prisoner, the non-straight, the non-white, the non-Christian and everyone else who isn’t like me. Because this white, middle-aged, middle-class, lefty Episcopalian from Arkansas by way of New York City thinks that’s actually what the little event in Bethlehem was all about.

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls.

3 comments

Shauntsies

December 11th, 2016

This is so wonderful!! Merry Christmas, Schremmers and Bedford Falls!!!

Aunt Jeni

December 11th, 2016

Tears. Merry Christmas you wonderful Schremmers!

Don Puckett

December 12th, 2016

What a GREAT read! It’s New York’s lost and NWArk win….I’m with you on the past election, I’ll never understand the people’s vote…Merry Christmas….

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