For years I assumed this was because we didn’t have a television. I mean, I had seen some holiday specials, probably thanks to being at my Aunt Frances’, being babysat. Most of my television watching occurred while at my aunt’s apartment. (I even saw the first lunar landing and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.) Of course, holiday specials only last an hour, or a mere 30 minutes, while It’s a Wonderful Life lasts hours, with commercials.
Recently I learned the truth. My mother hates the movie. Not just dislikes it considerably. She loathes it. Two years ago she said, “If you watch That Movie, I’ll kill you to put you out of your misery.” Of course, this is the same woman who allowed me at the age of 6 or 7 to drag her repeatedly to see The Sound of Music because I somehow fell in love with it and seeing the movie more than once became an imperative. (Given my age, I’m assuming the movie was playing at a revival theater where the tickets were reduced to a reasonable $1. I’m also assuming that she will someday forgive me for making her take me to see it seven times.)
My mother hates other sentimental movies (Sweet November, Dark Victory, Forrest Gump) but she has never promised to murder me if I were to watch, let alone like, any of them. Clearly, It’s a Wonderful Life holds a special place in her heart, obviously a very different place in her heart from the place the myriad of Frank Capra fans keep it.