Saturday, September 23, 2023

EDITORIAL: Angel Second Class had first-class wisdom

| December 23, 2022 1:00 AM

Clarence Odbody was right, you know.

“Dear George,” the Angel Second Class inscribed in his copy of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

A hundred years from now, a thousand or ten thousand, it’s our fervent hope that "It’s A Wonderful Life" will still be part of mankind’s Christmas tradition, if for no greater reason than that message.

No man is a failure who has friends.

Let that sink in. Because you’ve got friends, bask in it, like a happy pooch in front of a blazing hearth. But also know there’s room to grow. When it comes to friends, there’s no such thing as too much or too many. Each of us can reduce our failures by simply increasing our friendships.

George Bailey benefited from living his entire life in one town. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him. You don’t have that advantage — our community is too populous and too transient for that — but you are blessed to be surrounded by opportunities to make friends.

Some of those open doors are easily recognizable. Senior centers, the workplace, churches, health clubs, breakfast spots, sporting events, coffee shops, dog parks, libraries — all provide fertile ground for friend-making. But here at the doorstep of Christmas 2022, maybe it’s worthwhile to consider less obvious friend builders and failure reducers.

The gentleman whose car has slid off the road, and you can help; that’s a friendship just waiting to happen. Or the mother in the grocery line you’ve seen before, a person whose obvious stress can be eased by a few kind words each time you see her. These are simple building blocks upon which friendships eventually can grow.

But there’s more. Not just an opportunity to avoid failure, but to grasp happiness at a higher level.

It’s doubtful that George Bailey and Henry F. Potter could ever be friends, and you know some people with whom friendship is simply not realistic. But perhaps there’s an anonymous neighbor or an acquaintance you’ve misjudged, someone worthy of friendship if you’re willing to sit down and talk and get to know each other better.

This Christmas, give yourself the gift that so enriched George Bailey. Let your friends know how much they mean to you, and strive to increase their numbers.

Angel Odbody's inscription is the prescription for a wonderful life.

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