The Greatest Gift is the short story that inspired Frank Capra’s seasonal classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. This little gem was on sale, at the end of an aisle at Chapter’s and is a “must read” for the holiday season. It begins with the story and is followed by the history of this story.
It is amazing to reflect on how this little tale was expanded upon for this beloved Christmas movie. Like the movie, the book begins with George peering down from a bridge into the swirling water below. A man appears at his side, telling him not to jump and grants George’s wish of never being born.
As George heads off, sees that the tree he had hit with his car is no longer damaged. He quickly realizes that his friends and loved ones don’t recognize him and understands the impact of his never being born. This section is abbreviated compared to the movie. The movie provides greater detail on what life would have been like if George had never been born.
The latter part of the book provides historical information about the story. The author had struggled to find a publisher. Finally, he gave up and independently published the story within a Christmas card. It found its’ way to Frank Capra and became the inspiration for It’s A Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart, who had just returned, decorated, from the War was cast as the leading actor. He later shared that of the 70 films he participated in, It’s A Wonderful Life was his favourite.
This will now an annual read for the Christmas season along with viewing the movie. The story, while condensed makes one think about the impact that each of our lives have on others. If you are looking for a quick, festive read try The Greatest Gift!