It’s a Wonderful Life

We knew we’d be in for a lot of work when we bought an old house. An old house whose first owners thought they were the world’s best DIY home renovators and who played very funny tricks with wiring and insulation and lights, and whose most recent owners didn’t care enough to maintain their beautiful yard, deck, and pool. So every project we take on, to try and make the place a little better, has ended up being much more of a challenge than we anticipated, thanks to the DIY surprises. I’ll admit, being genetically predisposed to pessimism, I get discouraged pretty easily. We keep ending up with several half-finished projects because we need to stop and buy new materials, or get an expert in to help, and of course, everything costs money.

I was in a funk about the siding guys delaying and half-assing their work, and I felt like we’d never be rid of them. It was a very long week, with several people coming in to give us estimates on new floors and some drywall work, and the roofing guy pulling off the skylight to repair a leak. Mojo’s “elimination” problems still weren’t going away, and I felt like anyone coming into our home would smell it and think we were disgusting people with too many cats. Watching the numbers add up, seeing the wood scraps falling into my family room through the open skylight, and hearing Dave on the phone with the insurance company to try and get the contractors moving again, I was completely depressed.

And then, something happened.

I turned on the TV, with a fluffy Mojo in my lap, and found It’s a Wonderful Life playing.

It was the scene where George meets Mary in their new house for the first time. I can’t find a clip online to share with you, but this is a YouTube version of the whole movie, and the scene is at the 1-hour mark.

A transcript, in case you’re not able to get the video going:

CLOSE SHOT –– George enters. The house is carpetless, empty –– the rain and wind cause funny noises upstairs. A huge fire is burning in the fireplace.
Near the fireplace a collection of packing boxes are heaped together in the shape of a small table and covered with a checkered oil cloth. It is set for two.
A bucket with ice and a champagne bottle sit on the table as well as a bowl of caviar. Two small chickens are impaled on a spit over the fire. A phonograph is playing on a box, and a string from the phonograph is turning the chickens on the spit.
The phonograph is playing “Song of the Islands.”
Mary is standing near the fireplace looking as pretty as any bride ever looked. She is smiling at George, who has been slowly taking in the whole set-up.
Through a door he sees the end of a cheap bed, over the back of which is a pair of pajamas and a nightie. Ernie exits and closes the door.

MARY (tears in her eyes): Welcome home, Mr. Bailey.

After that scene, it’s harder for me to hate our wonderful house. After all, it’s home. It’s got character and potential, and it’s in a great spot with kind neighbors. I’m here with my husband and our cats, and it’s not the end of the world if some rooms are half-painted and the carpets are dirty and worn through and the bathrooms are cold. Any kids we may have won’t care about any of that, because it’ll be home.

I admit, I’m not usually good at seeing the bright side of things. That’s always been my biggest struggle. But I’m making up a little note for my fridge that says “Welcome home, Mr. Bailey” and I will try to let it remind me about what really counts.

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