Life Lessons from the Classics

I love stories!

Children learn through stories and adults spend billions of dollars being transported to another world through stories. We watch stories on TV and at the movies. People have made a business out of telling stories on YouTube. Amazon is making billions selling books that tell stories.

When you get together with your friends, you tell stories; stories about what happened to you, to your children or at work. Stories are powerful. The story you tell yourself about your life is powerful – and it often comes true.

In other words, the story you tell yourself about yourself will be the one your grandchildren tell their children about you. What you believe will happen will happen because what you believe and think controls how you feel. In turn, your feelings determine your actions and what you do – and of course, what you DO determines your results.

When you begin with a better story, you’ll likely have a better ending.

Christmas is a time of year when more stories are told around the world. Some of the most fun stories and best lessons are buried in those stories. Here are my favorite stories from this holiday and what I’ve learned from each. If you have another story you enjoy, or lesson from one of these, please post it in the comment section!


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

In 1964 this stop-action animated movie was top of the line animation and released as a television special. Today, children may laugh at the animation, but the story is as old as time – and it introduced another reindeer to Santa’s sleigh.

Santa’s original reindeer were Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Vixen, Dasher, Comet, Cupid and Blitzen and named by Clement Clarke Moore in the late 1700s when he wrote the Night Before Christmas. When Santa’s sleigh is depicted today, there’s a small reindeer at the front with a blinking red nose.

I’m reminded that not all of us look the same, and if we did the world would be a pretty boring place. I’m reminded that not all motorcyclists are drug-dealing, gun-toting bad guys and not all preachers have warm, fuzzy personalities. We’re all different and we all have something to offer. And, we are not defined by that difference.  In other words, Rudolph had a nose that got the sleigh through the night, but it doesn’t mean he was good through and through.

The drug-dealing gang member is breaking the law and likely is scary, but he may also be willing to protect his mother with his life.  None of us is what we seem on the exterior.


Holiday Inn

Irving Berlin wrote the music for this 1942 musical, featuring the song “White Christmas.” The story is about four people whose lives are interconnected by show businesses and stage performances. At some point, they all pretend to be someone they aren’t.

At some point we all pretend to be someone we aren’t, and like in the movies, we are usually found out. Sometimes the results are ok, and at other times, not so much. The movie makes it appear as if everything turns out well in the end, even when you pretend. But the reality is different.

Pretending is lying about what and who you are. In the 1940s there was a lot of that going on. It was a simpler time, but the problems and challenges that many women faced were never addressed in the public eye. The past looks good through rose-colored lenses, but the present reality is much easier to deal with.


How the Grinch Stole Christmas

I love this animated television short released in 1966. There is a little bit of Grinch in all of us. Anytime we think twice about helping, giving or doing for someone other than our self or our family.

In the movie, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day he saw Cindy Lou. This is a gift I look for as I make my daily journey. What will come across my path that will make my heart grow or will tug at my heartstrings. And when it does . . . how will I react?

Sometimes this gift takes me out of my way and interrupts my day. But, it is always a gift because all gifts cost something. It doesn’t have to be a gift to me – it may be that I’m giving a gift to others. And every gift costs something. It may be time, effort, energy or money.

BUT, I also get a gift in return. I get something from giving that I can’t get any other way. I receive more from the gift of giving than I ever give.


Miracle on 34th Street

I think the title of the movie says it all. There is a miracle at Christmas that involves Santa and it happens on 34th Street.

There’s a young lady with her daughter, a young lawyer, Santa and large department store. If you haven’t seen this 1947 classic film, it’s time to see it this year. It’s a story of hope, joy and a miracle that we all hope for each Christmas.


Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. He’s the reason for the season. It’s often a time we spend introspectively examining our own lives – what we accomplished in the past year and what we hope for in the coming. As you march forward into 2018, remember:

Not everything is as it seems
You don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not
You will be touched by others and this is a gift to YOU
You can expect miracles when you keep God front and center


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