The Christmas Classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, has warmed hearts for decades — and rightly so. This delightful and surprisingly relatable tale of George Bailey and his quest for purpose in a small town should have a place in literally every home at every Christmas time. George’s journey cuts to our hearts and shifts our perspectives to what truly matters.
But George isn’t the only character that inspires in life-altering ways. His love interest, and eventual wife, Mary Hatch, is an incredible model of so many qualities I long for and need to be reminded of in my own life. Her constant role in the background of George’s story is a phenomenal story in itself.
Here’s why Mary Hatch is an inspiration to us all.
1. She knows what she wants.
Mary is the most steady character throughout this whole film. While not many of us can so quickly say, “George Bailey, I’ll love you til the day I die” as Mary does in her first childhood scene, this moment sets off an incredible journey of perseverance and confidence on her part. It takes George forever to finally admit he loves her and feel ready for a serious relationship. That doesn’t stop her from hoping.
And when push comes to shove, she isn’t shy about communicating exactly how she feels to George, himself. There’s a scene where George visits Mary and she sets him up for romance. She’s playing their song on the record player, displaying a cross-stitch of an adorable inside joke, and wearing the sweetest dress. She straight up invites him in with this coyness and sass that’s pure fire. That scene and the way she handles George has worked wonders on my own love life. Watch it again and don’t miss Mary’s pure boldness and class.
2. She finds the purpose in waiting.
Mary waited a long time for her love life to pan out, but she definitely did not let it stop her from living. She clearly had a vibrant high school career all while crushing on George. Then she went away to college for 4 years and even went out with other guys who showed interest in her.
And the best part? She took that time to know her own heart and mind, then bravely acted on it.
3. She’s steady in the face of hardship.
George, though iconically heroic, has some pretty unstable moments throughout It’s a Wonderful Life. His father passes away suddenly, leaving him with the unwanted responsibility of the family business. He’s forced to give up his dream of traveling the world and becoming an architect. One mistake from his business partner almost ruins George and all he’s worked for.
Yet, Mary remains by his side.
She’s cool and collected in the face of crisis over and over again. She’s the catalyst who comes up with a solution on more than one occasion.
Each of us is undoubtedly faced with road-blocks in our lives. Mary is the person who takes that slab of a road-block and paints the most breathtaking mural on it.
4. She makes the most out of the crummiest situations.
When a jealous high school boy’s prank leaves Mary completely drenched in front of the whole school formal? She laughed hysterically and made a night of it by walking home with George in funny, borrowed gym clothes.
When George finally comes to visit after all those years, he’s very nonchalant. And though she gets a little angry at him (who could blame her?) she takes her chance and sets the tone for romance and what she really wants anyways.
When their honeymoon got cancelled, it was pouring down rain, and George had to stay late at the office, she somehow created the most romantic (and memorable) getaway out of an old abandoned house.
Speaking of that old house, did you see what she did with it by the last half of the movie? She transforms it into a darling home. Mary Hatch is a 1930’s version of Joanna Gaines!
5. She’s basically mom-of-the-year.
Mary stands by the Bailey Building and Loan, maintains a strong marriage, organizes war-relief efforts, and flips an entire house while giving birth and then raising 4 children. And did you notice her fabulous Christmas decorations? We see you, Mary. We see you.
6. She stands by her man.
I don’t know about you, but if the stock market crashed on my wedding day and ruined my honeymoon plans, my first reaction probably wouldn’t be to whip out my wad of wedding cash and say, “Who needs money?”
Mary knew all that George had sacrificed to keep the old Building and Loan business alive. When he was out of solutions, Mary jumped in and made a sacrifice of her own that ended up saving a critical establishment in Bedford Falls. That establishment went on to improve hundreds of lives. She was there when her husband truly needed someone to lean on and was wise enough to make a judgement call in favor of the greater good.
7. She understands the roles of both beauty and character.
We can’t ignore the comparison between Mary and her clear counterpart, Violet.
From her first scene as small child, we see Violet looking fabulous and knowing it. She is truly beautiful and stylish and knows how to use it to her advantage. She flocks to the attention of men, but never seems truly satisfied. She has her eye on George, but he always seems to be holding out for a relationship with more substance.
Then we see Mary, very unassuming at first glance, but when she shows up at the high school dance, we, along with George, can’t help but gasp. Though physically beautiful and plenty stylish, Mary has clearly worked on her character more than her looks. We get to watch how her strong character plays a pivotal role in the well-being of not only her family, but the entire town of Bedford Falls.
George Bailey did have a wonderful life. And so did Mary. They played a great role in each other’s stories and made an incredible team.
I would even be so bold to say, that unlike Violet, Mary is the one who’s truly satisfied at the end of the movie. Not because her life is perfect, but because she realizes she has a life worth living — no matter the circumstances.
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