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The Sixth Day of Christmas Giveaway

The winner of the advent calendar is Diane Sallans! Thanks to everyone for dropping by to comment.

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There’s this scene in It’s a Wonderful Life that kills me.

It comes about a third of the way through the movie. George has had one romantic night with Mary, danced with her and told her he’d lasso the moon for her, but then he’s been called away from her by his father’s illness. Mary goes to college. George gives up his own trip to Europe and his college education in order to save his dad’s Building and Loan from being shut down. He sends his kid brother, Harry, to college instead. Now, finally, Harry has graduated, and it’s George’s turn to leave—except that when Harry comes back to town, he brings a wife with him. She reveals to George that there’s a good opportunity for Harry in her father’s glass factory.

We know George well enough by this point to understand what the news means. All George wants—all he’s ever wanted—is to leave. But he’s incapable of putting what he wants in front of what’s good for the people he loves. George will stay so Harry can go.

But he is not happy about it.

Frustrated and stuck, he goes for a walk and ends up in front of Mary’s house, dragging a stick along the picket fence like a six-year-old boy looking for trouble. She asks him in. He’s surly and rude and horrible—but obviously attracted to her, all the same. “Where’d you get that dress?” he asks.

“Do you like it?” Her voice is full of hope.

His response is sullen, just this side of cynical. “It’s all right.”

They exchange awkward small talk. Mary tells him she was homesick at college. She might as well be wearing a sign that reads I am going to stay here forever. I am a human trap. I am the embodiment of Bedford Falls, with beautiful skin and a beautiful heart.

George is a clenched fist, pure frustration.

Things go downhill from there. Her nosy mother is upstairs, trying to get George out of the house because Mary’s about to get a long-distance phone call from her suitor, Sam—one of George’s high school friends who’s left town and become a successful businessman while George stayed home and stagnated. Sam calls. George tries to leave, but he forgets his hat, and he ends up getting pulled into the phone call. He shares a receiver with Mary, listening to Sam tell them both about a plastics factory that’s the chance of a lifetime.

And George—poor George—he’s so stuck. He loves Mary, he loves Bedford Falls, and he can’t turn it off. He can’t figure out how to stop being a decent person and just leave, and he’s so angry about that. The camera pans in tighter and tighter on their faces, so close because they need to be able to hear the phone. Desperation is coming off George in waves. He tells Mary he doesn’t want to get married, ever, to anyone. He says her name like a plea. And finally, finally, he kisses her so hard that she drops the phone. He kisses her with everything he’s got. It’s an assault and a capitulation, all in one brutal, desperate kiss.

Oh, man, it just kills me.

For me, George and Mary’s first kiss is what passion looks like. The connection, the compulsion that George feels around Mary—it’s not convenient or even pleasant for him, but he needs it. He needs her.

When my editor asked me if I wanted to write a Christmas novella, It’s a Wonderful Life became my inspiration—and this scene in particular. There’s something so compelling about the story of a man who wants to leave and a woman who makes him want to stay—and who helps him reevaluate what it really means to make the world a better place.

In the end, the message of the film is that it isn’t easy to be a decent human being. It requires sacrifice, and sometimes it’s gut-wrenching to give up what you want to do for what you know you should do. But the reward, for George, is Mary. It’s family and community, friendship and belonging, and all the good he does in his town. The reward is love.

It makes me cry just thinking about it.

———

As part of the Twelve Days of Christmas promotion, I’m giving away one copy of Naughty and Nice at the Happy Ever After website today. The winner can have a digital copy or a paperback ARC, whichever they prefer. Drop by my post at HEA to enter.

Here, I’m offering a different gift: a handmade, reusable cloth advent calendar from Etsy. I’ll admit, I bought this because I have advent calendars on the brain. I wanted it for myself. But instead, I’m giving it away to you! Because this is the sixth day, I need six gifts, so I’m also throwing in four movie-quote Christmas cards and one little surprise in an advent calendar pocket.

To enter, just leave a comment below. If you feel like it, tell me what your favorite holiday tradition is — or, heck, your favorite movie kiss. Winners for all the Twelve Days of Christmas giveaways will be announced on Monday, November 26, and I’ll contact my own winners by e-mail (so fill in the e-mail comment field, which will not be visible to anyone but me). Also, be sure to check out the other posts at HEA for a chance to win books, and visit each author’s website to enter their gift giveaways!

34 thoughts on “The Sixth Day of Christmas Giveaway

  1. I have to say your tweet about your favorite scene from It’s a Wonderful Life had me reading your blog post. It’s one of my favorite movies. I still remember the first time I saw it, away from my family for my first Christmas with my new hubby who had to work on Christmas. I spent the day with this movie. Love the parts where George is crazed and frustrated with his life, and Mary knows it, loving and not smothering him. Such a classic! That scene where they are both on the phone with Sam, is so awesome! thanks for making my Monday morning a little brighter!

  2. Aww Ruthie, your post made me reevaluate that scene. I have to confess It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my dad’s favourite films, and we often watched it around the holidays. When I was little I didn’t enjoy it much because it was in black and white, was so long and the characters were all grown up (lol ;-p), but since I can watch a 2 hour-long movie without losing interest I came to appreciate it. Will have to rewatch it this Christmas and will look out for this scene particularly. Now I’m even more curious about your holiday story :-D Congrats!

    Holiday traditions: we have plenty: like watching While You Were Sleeping with the family at Christmas (just love it!) and Home Alone with my friends for a laugh. To have breakfast during the holidays while looking at the lights on the tree. Of dressing up nicely on Christmas Eve and once we get home from the grandparents everyone shucking their high heeled shoes and wearing slippers with their fancy dresses :-D lol I just LOVE Christmas and can’t wait!!

    1. I didn’t love it as a kid, either — it was often part of our family Christmas to watch it at my grandparents’, and it seemed rather dull to me. But I kept watching it as I grew older, and got interested in different aspects over the years. I bet you’d enjoy it now!

  3. Hi Ruthie,

    I received the Naughty and Nice book and Loved “Room at the Inn”. It was a great story! I don’t want to give anything away, but it is a definite re-read!!

  4. I live in a lovely little town with a small green & colonial charm. The volunteer firemen put up a large lite tree and on Christmas Eve we all gather for a Christmas Carole sing. My church then has a candlelite service. It’s a lovely way to celebrate that real meaning of Christmas rather then just the material gift giving.

    I love these type of holiday anthologies – I’m going to have to hunt down a print copy cause I’m not eEnabled (yet).

  5. I just wanted to stop by and say that I just finished reading A Room at the Inn and I LOVED it. I couldn’t put it down. I loved the chemistry between Jules and Carson.

    My favorite holiday tradition is watching A Christmas Story. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me if I haven’t watched it at least once.

  6. I love that scene too and your post was such a lovely way of explaining what happens and why.

    Favorite kiss? The one that comes to mind first, besides the hugely popular boat scene from The Notebook, is when Sam and Diane from Cheers are having this huge, huge row that ends in an explosive kiss born from equal parts aggravation and sexual frustration. Out of context, it’s not that great of a scene but after having watched them spar for episode after episode, it was amazingly cathartic.

  7. For us, Christmas is very casual and the stockings are almost more important than the gifts under the tree. My mother made each of us a stocking and when she passed away I kept up the tradition as marriages and babies came along.

  8. My favorite holiday tradition is my Mom, my daughter & I all preparing a traditional Polish dinner for Christmas. This year, my grandsons (4 & 5 years old) will be “helping”. That’ll be 4 generations preparing dinner this year!

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  9. I already posted on HEA about the movie, so I’ll post my favorite tradition here!

    Every year my dad and I have our own holiday tradition, separate from the rest of the family, where he and I work together to make various parts of Christmas dinner. Since I moved away, I haven’t been there to bake cookies or wrap gifts, or set up the Christmas tree (daddy always did the lights and I did “my” ornaments – and the cats played with the garland). I’m pretty sure the cats still play with the garland ;-) … But no matter what, even if we are states apart, we always make our “famous” cheese dip and crackers as an appetizer for Christmas Day. He taught me to make it when I was twelve, and it has always been a holidays only treat (of course, now that I’m away from home, I cheat a little when I’m feeling homesick).

    It’s just not Christmas without that snack.

    Thanks for the post and the giveaway!!

  10. I loved revisiting It’s a Wonderful Life with you! That was a marvelous scene to focus on. Thanks.

    We have lots of Christmas traditions in the family–Christmas mass, a big turkey dinner, lots of homemade cookies. One of my favorites is the opening of family gifts on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus presents and filled stockings are there Christmas morning, but our family exchange the night before has always been wonderful–it’s especially great with grandkids!

  11. I love that scene so much! I think it was my first visual of sexual tension. Not just on George’s part, but also on Mary’s. I really liked seeing the good girl all worked up. :-)

    Favorite tradition: taking down the kiss jar (jar with goofy picture of a reindeer kissing another reindeer), filling it with Hershey’s kisses, putting it on the mantel and seeing how long it takes my husband to notice. :-)

  12. Growing up we didn’t celebrated Christmas that often, so I’m making up my tradition as I go. I love having lights and garland around the house, it just makes it all cheery and warm. I love going around and seeing all the houses lited up for the holidays. So, Christmas Eve we drive around looking at people’s decorations.

  13. My favorite holiday tradition is a little corny. Well, the first part is. Every year we get new Christmas pj’s to sleep in. My kid still hasn’t realized that part yet. That’s the corny part. The part I love is that every Christmas Eve, we watch a new Christmas movie. This year, we’re watching (the HARD to find) Arthur’s Christmas.

  14. One of my favorite holiday tradition is when opening gifts we slow it down, sit in a circle and take turns from youngest to oldest so that everyone can share with each other. My husbands family used to just rip into them all at once and it was over in 5 minutes. Now we make an evening out of it and get to spend lots of time together since there are so many of us.

    Love It’s a Wonderful Life…one of my all time favorite movies!

  15. What a beautiful advent calendar, that is actually my favorite holiday tradition. I loved getting the ones that had a piece of chocolate each day when I was little. I continued the tradition with my kids looking all over for the chocolate filled ones. I even got the Lego advent calendar for my youngest a couple times. Thanks for the fun contest.

    1. My son had the Lego advent and loved it… In fact he now has two, because someone passed another one on to him after Christmas. Has filled his Lego box with the oddest shapes. :-) We still have a few very odd Lego ornaments he made while young that we hang every year.

  16. Hi Ruthie…I don’t really have many holiday traditions and I’m afraid that this Christmas will be bittersweet for me. We had a shed fire in April and EVERY Christmas item we had was destroyed (except one Christmas card holder that was my mother-in-law’s). We don’t have kids, it’s just the 2 of us, but every year I took great pleasure in him putting up the tree and then us unwrapping each and every ornament in our eclectic collection–no matchy-matchy for me! I’d say to dah hubby, “OHHHH…do you remember when we got this one on our honeymoon” or “My mom gave us this one for the cats…,” etc. Several of the ornaments are ones that I had made as a child–40 years ago! I’m thankful that no people (or pets) were hurt and that the house was fine, but Christmas will be VERY different this year.

  17. Christmas Pjs from daddy to his little girl are a family tradition in our family. Watching Christmas cartoons is another one. Who knew Frosty could still captivate a child so many years after it was originally aired?

  18. Nothing says Christmas to me more than going to Christmas Eve Mass with my family.

    (And Kim, my siblings and myself are all adults and we still do the Christmas pj thing.)

  19. My favorite movie kiss is from Kids in America (starring Gregory Smith, not the other one). When they step outside into the rain and explore famous movie kisses themselves. It was really cool trying to pick out which kiss was from which movie.

    My favorite Holiday Tradition is Egg Nog! I absolutely love having Egg Nog and Peppermint Ice Cream Christmas Eve and opening our “Sister Presents.”

  20. Our family trims the tree with lots of handmade items and ornaments they made in school. It brings back so many memories and the tears flow. I love everything they made for me!!

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