‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ my family tradition

With the onslaught of the holiday madness upon us, I am reflecting back on my own childhood memories of the holidays. Do you seem to do that, too? I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It makes me unbearably reminiscent for times gone by. Maybe it’s the hectic fever that engulfs all of us as time winds down to the beginning of another year. This holiday season I want to share with you my family’s favorite Christmas tradition.
I am remembering a more simple life, memories of my childhood back in Southern Missouri. How the wind blew hard across the south 40 acres of my parent’s farm during the winter. But most of all, that one special evening I so dearly loved. My favorite family tradition would begin with my sister, brother, mom, dad and myself curling up near the television, while we waited for “It’s a Wonderful Life” to begin.
This movie didn’t win any awards in Hollywood. However, with time it developed a following, which led to networks airing the film — originally made in black and white back in 1946 — during Christmas time. Frank Capra directed Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in two of their most memorable roles. I’m sure they had no idea at the time the power this film would impact on views for many decades later.
Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey — a man destined to never leave his hometown of Bedford Falls. Through a series of flashbacks we find out that George really had much larger aspirations. However, fate had a bigger plan for this man’s life. When George’s father dies, he makes the noble choice to carry on the family business.
If he doesn’t many humble people in his hometown will no longer have the means to afford to buy their own homes, due to Mr. Potter — the sinister greedy man that runs the bank. If George leaves, he realizes the disastrous ramifications of fulfilling his own dreams. Instead, he stays in Bedford Falls, marries his childhood sweetheart and doesn’t venture farther than the town square, while all of his friends go on to bigger things. As years pass, we see time taking its toll on George’s soul as he grapples with reality of living in a small town and never following his own dreams.
The film begins with George standing on a bridge during a snowstorm with one last prayer to his guarding angel. Finding out that he is worth more “dead than alive” because of a life insurance policy, George decides the world would be better without his debts and failure and decides to jump off the bridge during a blistering snowstorm. Luckily for George, his prayers have been heard. After plunging into the cold water below, he is saved by his guardian angel. Then he is given the chance to see what the world would be like if he were never born. What you discover as you take the journey with George Bailey and Clarance the angel is that sometimes we are destined for smaller things that serve the much larger picture in our lives.
If there is some improbable way that you have not seen this film, please take two hours this holiday season to join in my family tradition. Discover the secrets to happiness and why money does not always equal the true definition of success. Find out why I still remember clips to this classic during my own quiet trying times. We often measure our prosperity by our bank accounts and material possessions. “It’s a Wonderful Life” touches upon the universal truths that we easily forget, while we are trying to up our “curb appeal” in San Diego. So don’t forget to squeeze in this classic movie that reminds us of what really counts this Christmas season.
Around town
On Nov. 26, many Californians woke up on Thanksgiving Day to participate in the Turkey Trot 5k in Oceanside. The Coast News Group, which is the publishing group for the Rancho Santa Fe News, was proud to be one of the sponsors. I had no idea what a huge event this would be or that so many enthusiastic Californians were up at the crack of dawn on their first day off of a long holiday weekend. At 7 a.m., you can only imagine how chilly the ocean air felt while we all waited for the final whistle. I took a group shot of The Coast News Group team, with some of their family members, on that glorious sunny day. Also, I have included a cute shot of Jean Gillette, our community news editor, with publisher and owner Jim Kydd. If you are looking for a more invigorating way to start your Thanksgiving next year, sign up for the Oceanside Turkey Trot so you can enjoy more turkey later that day.
 On Dec. 2, I was thrilled to be invited to Denise Hug’s Holiday Luncheon. The  party took place in the premier dining area in Mille Fleurs at noon sharp. Guests enjoyed champagne and wine as they mingled with the other women, while waiting to be seated. I ran into one of my favorite Ranch residents, Karian Forsyth. She owns The Right One dating franchise in here in San Diego. Founded more than 10 years ago, this is one to check for single ladies if you are still looking for Mr. Right. After we were seated, I noticed my own cute Santa name card. I just love those special details that make an event splendid. I was also impressed with how Denise managed to cater to all of her friends; she was the perfect hostess. Little did I know, there would also be an intimate fashion show with gorgeous women modeling the one and only famous jewelry designer John Matty. At one point, my table played a guessing game with one of the skinny models of ”How many carats?” Would you believe the ring size was 25 carats? Now that’s what I call high society. Denise actually mentioned, “Machel, your neck looks bare, you could use something right there.” I was actually having the same thought, imagining those fat jewels dangling off my neck. I’ll keep that as secret wish in the future. I managed to take a few candid shots that day, which I have included. Some of the other guests there were Jennifer Bell, Maggie Bobileff, Suzie Robinson, Cathy Lynch, Margo Schwab Connie McNally, Nancy Bello and many more. There is a group shot of my table luncheon of ladies with Chef Martin Woesle. The women clapped for the chef as he entered the room, after enjoying his delicious parsley soup, Maine lobster with avocado and papaya salad, followed up by chocolate mousse with berries. Only first class at Mille Fleurs. OK, I might have broken my diet on this one special occasion. Thank you to one of the loveliest women in the Ranch, Denise Hug, for including me on your guest list this year! 
On Dec. 4, I received a phone call from Patrick Galvin informing of some exciting news about his son, Patrick Galvin Jr. He was recently named by the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary Club as Student of the Month. With a 4.5 grade point average and editor in chief of the Torrey Pines newspaper, The Falconer, he already has an impressive resume for his college admissions. The Falconer was also voted the No. 1 high school newspaper in the United States. I have to add, that Patrick Galvin Jr. was an intern here at The Coast News, and wrote for our very own newspapers. Congrats on such amazing achievements, and thank you for including me in on the news.
On Dec. 5, I received a phone call from one of my very best friends, Meredith MacDonald, asking me to join her for a “Mother’s luncheon at Mille Fleurs” with our good friend Jill Sorge. I must say eating leafy green salads with two of  my best friends was a fabulous way to wind down the week (especially after the luncheon with Denise). Jill, Meredith and I have been fast friends for the last 10 years here in San Diego. I met Jill at party when I was pregnant with Jackson, then Meredith at a Gymboree when our boys were just babies. Now, 10 years later, we still find some time to ourselves to enjoy our friendship. I took a sweet shot of Jill and Meredith together that day. I am lucky to have them in my life. Take my advice busy holiday moms, make some girl time for yourself and your friends. Leave the kids with dad. You deserve it.
Later that day, I received some information from one of my favorite advertising clients, Ed Greene, who owns E. Greene Gallery in Solana Beach. He shared with me some exciting news regarding a huge moving sale he is having before the holidays are out. You can receive drastic price reduction on antique botanicals, other frames and framed art before Christmas. If you are looking for something with soul and the “heart of an artists,” you can find that special gift you haven’t thought here at E. Greene Gallery. Some of his clients have included Robert de Niro, Kevin Spacey and Whitney Houston. I hate to name drop, but I actually left a few out. For more details, check out www.egreenegallery.com or call Ed at (858) 481-8312 to take advantage of his moving sale during the holiday madness. His gallery is located just around the corner in Solana Beach in The Steven’s Design Center. Thanks Ed for always being the best to me.

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