Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies.
It’s all about connectedness, about one person’s effect on others in this life. To some folks it’s a nostalgic return to a time when much of America was dotted with small towns like Bedford Falls, the fictional setting of the movie.
For me, it’s a reminder that I live in a place like Bedford Falls. A place like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.
Like George Bailey in the movie, when I walked into our humble little post office on Saturday, Maria called out “Good Morning, Scott!”. As I left I bade her “Merry Christmas, Maria!”, and she returned the greeting.
In the Stewart’s Shop, the regional convenience store chain, I’m served by Stacey, whom I’ve watched grow and mature since before school age. To her, I’m “Mr. O’Connor”.
Also to the many children I coached at Youth Baseball. More kids than I remember, and I must admit I don’t always recognize them twenty years later. To them, sometimes I’m “Mr. McGuire”, (some of my kids have alternate last names), or even simply “Coach”.
Down at Sunnycrest, browsing the greenhouses for flowers or buying wood pellets, they even recognize Chuy the Wonderdog, welcome to walk around the place with the owner’s dog.
Taking the trash to the Transfer Station, I see Carl every week. A classmate of my son’s, he also took up flying radio-controlled planes with us for a while.
One of my favorite small town moments was when I met one of our neighbors, Tony, as I was exiting the Stewart’s shop. My daughter dated his son in high school. A chance you don’t get every day, I greeted him with “Good morning, Sheriff!”. It felt like I was in a Gunsmoke episode.
Sure, lots of people know the Sheriff or have coached youth sports. Folks far and wide are known by name in their local haunts, from Starbucks to Subway. You don’t need to live in a small town to be surrounded by friends and neighbors.
Big town or small town, it’s being with those we cherish that really matters.