If your holiday traditions are like mine the time of year has come to watch that classic of all Christmas classics. I’m talking about the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. But there’s one scene in that movie that hits so close to home it’s scary - and I don’t mean funny-scary, I mean petrifying-scary.
The scene that brings me to the brink of nightmare is not really the scene itself, but the memory it evokes. The scene is when George Bailey’s brother, Harry, sled out of control, ends up in the water. Of course, George saves Harry, but in the alternate world of Clarence the Angel, Harry sleds his way to a watery grave.
A few years before my wife Stephanie and I met, I was married to someone else, and had two step-children, a girl named Amy and a boy named Casey. I well remember one year when we were in Colorado for Christmas with Amy and Casey’s grandparents. It was Christmas morning and Casey had found a brand new, bright red plastic snow sled under the tree. He was anxious to try out his new sled and everyone was antsy to get out of the house so we took a road trip to Wolf Creek Pass, a ski resort close by.
We checked out the prices to rent equipment and buy a lift ticket, and decided just to hang out and have some fun instead. There was a really cool hill above the parking lot where we decided Casey could walk up and then sled back down to us – a controlled area where he would never be out of sight. And so up the hill he shot, grin on face and sled in tow. And then, with reckless abandon he yelled out a “whoooooopieeeee” as he jumped on his sled and headed down the hill.
What we had not taken time to notice was that just past the parking lot was the rest of the mountain – the downward side of the mountain! In fact, the parking lot we were playing in was located at an elevation of a little over 10,000 feet. And with gravity being what it is, if something (or someone) was to slide past the parking lot, the results would be… well… let’s just say far reaching!
I would say we never noticed the danger of letting Casey sled past us and on down the mountain, but the truth is I did realize the danger. The problem is – I realized it only after I saw the terror in Casey’s eyes as he hit the parking lot and sledded right past me – out of control and unable to stop.
The outcome of our little road trip that day could have been quite different – in fact it may have made the 11 o’clock news all across America, had Casey’s big sister Amy not grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and pulled him from the careening toboggan.
And so there we stood, watching that bright red plastic luge as it flew down the side of the hill and into the valley. Down, down, down went Casey’s Christmas sled. And we watched and watched…and watched and watched, until the sled finally was so far down and away that it disappeared from sight, never to be seen again.
As I remember it we didn’t say much about what might have happened, had Amy not been standing where she was, or had she not had the presence of mind to grab his jacket. I think it was just too overwhelming to think about. But I assure you, the outcome could have been devastating.
After the divorce I lost touch with Amy and Casey, but I’ve heard Casey grew up to be a mighty man of God. And one thing I know – for every good thing Casey does for the Kingdom of God, Amy will get a jewel for her crown.
I’ve often wondered if George Bailey and I have the same guardian angel, because I'm pretty sure I remember hearing a bell ring.
Hee Haw - Thanks, Clarence. And by the way, if Casey forgot to say it, Thanks Amy!
Photo used by permission