Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23: Can I Have Seventeen-Fifty?

“Could I have seventeen-fifty?”
George begs
On October 24, 1929, George Bailey marries Mary Hatch.  They are on their way to the train station for their honeymoon, when Ernie, the cab driver, notices a mob outside the local bank.  The Great Stock Market Crash has happened, and the citizens of Bedford Falls are panicking.  George sees a mob outside the Building & Loan building, and he knows he’s in trouble.  Sure enough, everybody lines up, demanding their money.  George reasons with them.  He cajoles.  He begs.  Eventually, Mary offers up their wedding money to satisfy the crowd’s needs.  Each person asks for $20, until a little mouse of a woman named Mrs. Davis gets to the counter.  She asks the above question timidly, and George leans across the counter and kisses her.
Especially at this time of year, when all the stores are trying to get you to buy the newest gadgets, the latest DVD releases, the name-brand fashions, I can get swept up in the fever of commercialism  Yes, this post is going to be about the commercialism of Christmas.  I'm just as guilty as the next person.  I have a free laptop from the university.  At the top of my holiday wish list, however, is an iPad 2.  I have a house.  I'm praying for a bigger house.  We live in a society that's geared toward making you feel like you're never good enough, and, no matter how hard I try to resist, I always get sucked into that mentality.
Most of the people demanding money from George ask for $20.  It's a nice, round amount, and twenty dollars was probably more than most people needed in a week to survive back in 1929.  Mrs. Davis doesn't ask for more than she needs.  She asks for exactly what she needs.  I often wonder what state the world would be in if everyone was happy with just enough to get by, if we all did the math and realized we needed just $17.50.  My guess is there would be a lot less hungry people in the world.  Probably less poverty, less disease, less misery, as well.

It's Christmas, folks.  Let's all try to be satisfied, like Mrs. Davis, with just enough.  It may make us all happier people.

Saint Marty wonders if George has an iPad 2 back in his safe.  That would be just enough for him.

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