a favorite family tradition from my childhood was watching It's A Wonderful Life with my siblings while warming up by a crackling fire, eating popcorn in our jammies and falling asleep under cozy quilts. in the classic movie, George underestimates his good influence in his small town and among his neighbors. through his experience, he realizes that indeed he has been an important and worthwhile individual in his hometown of Bedford Falls.
since this is my dad's favorite film, he started a grand ritual in our home, which he likes to refer to as The George Bailey Award. my parents would buy a few copies of It's A Wonderful Life, wrap them in christmas paper and we'd each sign cards. we'd cast our vote for influential people who had made a difference in our lives that year, who deserved to receive our homespun George Bailey Award. during december, on blustery snowy nights, we'd hop in our van and drop by the home of the lucky (and most surprised) recipients. we would carol at their door before awarding them a video of their own with an explanation of our grand tradition. i'm not sure if presenting the award was more meaningful to them or to us. i've never forgotten the people who won our awards over the years and their random acts of (consistent) kindness that often went unrewarded throughout the other months. the best part about this ritual for me was sitting around our table each year, thinking of the georges in my life; the champions of goodness. and asking my mom if she could perhaps, go buy one more movie to present for an award, because i could always make lengthy lists of individuals once i got thinking. and she'd always reply with a yes.
little did i know, this family tradition taught us what christmas is all about. at this time of year it is most important to tell the important people in our lives why they are so important.