A Tale of Two Bankers

Posted on December 5, 2016


Our family has a few Christmas movies that are mainstays of the holiday season for us.  Amongst them are Scrooge (the musical version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol) and It’s a Wonderful Life.  A few years ago in my other blog (if you actually read that one too) I did three posts on Ebenezer Scrooge, from a banker’s view, a theologian’s view, and a therapist’s view.[1]  I realize these films are works of fiction, but I can’t help but look at the character’s as people and consider how they ended up as they did.

Last night we were watching Scrooge together, and I managed to stay awake through the Ghost of Christmas Present segment.  While Scrooge was with the Ghost of Christmas Past, I was considering the impact of the break up between Scrooge and Isabel, his fiancé.  This was a fundamental turning point in Scrooge’s life after which relationships mattered not at all.  It would seem reasonable to say that Scrooge was never happy again.  There was no joy in his life.

Jumping from there to It’s a Wonderful Life, we have the tale of another banker.  Okay, the Bailey Building and Loan was not technically a bank, but it was a financial institution.  They took deposits and made loans.  The story of George Bailey hinges on his assertion, made in a moment of desperation, that everything would have been better had he never been born.  George is given the opportunity to see how his family and his town would have been without him and the tremendous positive impact of his own life.

It occurred to me that perhaps an alternate question would be what would have happened if George never married Mary.  In the last scene before the wedding, George adamantly tells Mary that he has no intention of marrying and staying in their town.  He wants to see the world and accomplish great things with his life.  Let’s consider for a moment what happens to George if he and Mary do not wed.

First, within a few days, there is a run on the deposits at the building and loan.  In the film it is the combination of George’s negotiating with the mob and Mary’s quick thinking that saves the building and loan.  Without Mary as part of the equation, Mr. Potter (boo, hiss) ends up owning the building and loan.  George feels betrayed by his friends and neighbors whom he has previously helped and supported.  Result: Ebenezer Scrooge.

Second, let’s assume instead that the building and loan gets through the crash of ‘29.  Near the end of WWII when Uncle Billy loses the deposit and George is consequently in danger of being indicted for bank fraud, it is again Mary who comes to the rescue rallying not only financial but spiritual support for the distraught George.  Without Mary, George goes to prison in disgrace (unless he can get Uncle Billy to take the fall).  Embittered by the loss of freedom and loss of respect over a crime he did not commit, George becomes Scrooge.

The two stories as they are told are 1) Bright young man + great wife = happy life; 2) Bright young man with absence of wife = miserable life.  Though these are all fictional characters, I can’t help but agree.  You cannot overstate the value of having a great spouse.  Human beings are made for relationship.  From cradle to grave we need someone to whom we can turn for care comfort and support in times of distress.  The impact of having a best friend, lover, and partner who is there for you in good times and bad is quite literally life changing.

If you have such a wife, this would be a good time to let her know how much you appreciate her.  We men are often not good at this but it is important.  A lack of complaint is not the same as an affirmation.  Words of affirmation are powerful.  Make them come out of your mouth.  Be a blessing to the woman who has been a blessing to you.

Wishing you a happy marriage and a merry Christmas.

[1] If you have interest in those, here you go: https://thesameanddifferent.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/ebenezer-scrooge-a-theologians-view/   https://thesameanddifferent.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/ebenezer-scrooge-a-bankers-view/   https://thesameanddifferent.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/ebenezer-scrooge-a-therapists-view/