“Towns change; they grow or diminish, but hometowns remain as we left them.” (Jayne Anne Phillips)
One of my favorite movies at December holiday time would be the heartwarming story of George Bailey, a proud town hero in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” At various points in his life, George felt victimized by an unfulfilling lack of excitement in his Midwest hometown of Bedford Falls, Pennsylvania. Thus he desperately wanted to experience change in his life through travel. Yet a series of fantasy encounters with his “Guardian Angel” during times of personal crisis ultimately convinced him that Bedford Falls ultimately provided for him a a happier and more contented state of mind.
I’ve lived the majority of my life in the warm sunshine of tourist happy South Florida, Yet I can similarly identify with George’s hometown confusion by finding inner solace in the “grit and grind” place of my birth, Cuyahoga Falls, near Cleveland, Ohio. While so many ex-Midwest “snowbirds” might complain to me about “putting up”=with the cold weather “up north”, I’ve found nostalgic bliss in the “dead cold of winter” this year around the rugged shores of Lake Erie or my friendly town where I lived as a child. In spite of those “cool” beach and outdoor sport activities available to me now in “fast life” South Florida, I’ve chosen in mid December to once again take the slow downhill walk along West 3rd St. to watch my beloved Cleveland Browns play NFL football in frigid conditions at First Energy Stadium. By deciding to skip the exciting multicultural music and arts profusion in South Florida, I’ve opted instead now to engage in some vintage teenage fun at Cleveland’s Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame/Museum.
Yes, George Bailey and myself found our “Land of Oz” during those values formative years growing up in our unglamorous birthplace hometowns. Know then that both of us attained a wiser state of mind when we realized that “the grass is not always greener on the other side.” Bedford Falls and Cleveland may not be the perfect places to live, but they’re so right for us in human spirit.. Have a prosperous and safe holiday season.