Is it a George, Clarence, Mary, or Zuzu year?

It’s early December–the beginning of what is, arguably, the most emotionally packed month of the year. Some will greet the season with joy and anticipation; others will just hang on until it all comes to an end.


Have you ever felt like George Bailey during this pre-Christmas season? What about Clarence? Or Mary Bailey? Or even Zuzu Bailey? It’s A Wonderful Life is a Christmas classic movie I look forward to watching every year and George, Clarence, Mary and Zuzu are characters in the movie. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of taking it in let me bring you up to speed.

When the movie begins George Bailey is at the peak of his game and on the top of the world. He’s got plans–big plans–for adventure and excitement and can’t wait for the rest of his life to begin. In the movie, as in life sometimes, before too long his hopes and dreams are dashed and George finds himself standing on a bridge on a dark night wishing he had never been born.

Have you ever felt even a little bit like that? Does this season of glitter bring to the surface a sense of grief you’ve been trying hard to keep buried? Are there circumstances that are not as you wish they were right now?

Right about the time George is at his lowest point, Clarence shows up. Clarence, as it turns out, is George’s guardian angel. He is filled with child-like innocence and wonder and is just about the sweetest angel one could ever imagine. He comes alongside of George, encourages him and shows him what life have been like for his family and friends if he had never been born.

Ever had the privilege of being a Clarence? Have you ever walked with someone through a storm, helped to shore them up, encouraged them to put one foot in front of the other and rise above discouragement and depression? There are people everywhere who are in need of a Clarence to help them through the next few weeks.

Mary Bailey was in anguish. She was worried about her husband’s sudden change in temperament and unaware of the reason behind it. She tried valiantly to maintain a sense of calm, to keep her children calm, and to somehow support her husband. She may have been hurt by his angry outbursts; she may have been tempted to give in to her emotions but she stayed the course. In the end she rallied many good-hearted neighbours and friends to help save the day for George.

Have you ever gone through this season as a Mary? Consumed with worry and spending too many restless nights carrying a burden for someone? It’s not easy to be a Mary. It can steal your joy and wear you down.

Zuzu was George and Mary’s little girl–sweet, innocent, filled with anticipation and expectation. She found joy in simple things like a little flower; she believed in the magic of the season.

We’ve all experienced Christmas like Zuzu but for some of us it’s been a long time since we had that sense of joy. It may be difficult to remember what it feels like.

No matter whether you find yourself this year feeling like a George, Clarence, Mary, or Zuzu, there are a few things worth pondering.

If you’re on top of the world remember there are others who are struggling; maybe it’s your turn to be their Clarence. If you’re having a George or Mary year keep your eyes open for Clarence; it can be easy to miss seeing those angels who show up to help us through. If it’s your turn to play Zuzu, well just rejoice! Enjoy every single second and tuck the joy and wonder into the deep recesses of your heart so you can draw on them in the future.

Finally, regardless of who you are this year, know that next year you may play a different role. It’s even possible your role will change before this month is over. As I was working on this post, my husband learned that one of his friends had died suddenly the previous day. In an instant, life was changed forever for that man’s family and roles shifted.

I wish it was possible for us all to have Zuzu or Clarence years every year. The reality is we won’t and life doesn’t always seem so wonderful. When we’re having George or Mary years perhaps keeping our eyes open for Clarence will bring unexpected blessings; maybe igniting that little spark of Zuzu that we keep tucked away in our heart will help us find a measure of magic.

Let us never forget that, whether we feel it or not, there is indeed still magic.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. It’s a Wonderful Life is the most iconic Christmas film out there. What a wonderful message! So far I’ve haven’t sunk to the lows or the anguish of George or Mary Bailey. Some of the magic of the season is gone for me, but I can relate to Zuzu–I tend to be pretty naive at times.

    I’m closest to Clarence I think. I’m more inclined toward optimism and I’m getting older like Clarence. I attempt to be encouraging and helpful to others though in the film it seemed to be a simpler time. If only all of life’s endings were happy ones like in this film.

    Arlee Bird
    Wrote By Rote

    1. So nice to see you here, Arlee! What a joy that you see yourself like a Zuzu and a Clarence and, I’m certain, a gift to those around you.

  2. Linda, what a cheering post. Thanks. This year I’m feeling a little of each of them which is not such a great thing. My Spirit is confused, I suppose, by this crazy world.

    1. It does indeed topsy-turvy and crazy doesn’t it? I’m glad my words brought you a measure of cheer. 🙂

  3. Great post Linda. Actually I think I’m a Mr. Potter! Totally self absorbed and cynical. LOL I have to force myself to get into the Christmas spirit. The season feels so contrived and commercialized. But I’ve been through this enough times now to know that around Dec. 20th the joy of Christmas will finally kick in. For several years now, I’ve spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents, while the citizens of Bedford Falls go about their business on the small screen in the corner of the room. And I suppose by this time you could say I’m a Zuzu. 🙂

    1. Ha! I tend toward the Mr. Potter side sometimes myself, Grace. This year, as most years, I’m looking forward to December 26 and a return to normalcy

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