For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to own a two-door 1957 Chevrolet. In order of preference: a Nomad wagon, a hardtop, a convertible, a two-door sedan, a 150 model, a Bel Air model, a 210 model, or a Del Ray. My favorite colors are black, red, or robin’s egg blue with a white top. I would like the car to have an automatic transmission, but a four-on-the-floor would be acceptable, too, as long as it is hooked up to a healthy V-8 engine. An original interior would be nice, but comfortable and attractive modern seats would be cool, too. As you can tell, I’ve put a great deal of thought into this. I know exactly what I want. But I’m really not very picky. I would gratefully accept any combination of the above features if Santa were to put such an automobile under my Christmas tree.
I will admit that lately I’ve been particularly consumed with trying to find my dream car. I’ve spent hours and hours online searching for the right vehicle. I think I’ve replaced my Facebook obsession with an eBay Motors and Craigslist one. But there’s a perfectly logical (and selfish) reason for my fixation on acquiring a classic ride: I have everything else I could possibly want or need.
I have an amazing wife, three beautiful children, great friends, a comfortable house, food in the pantry, beer in the fridge, a fleet of high-mileage automobiles that are paid-for, and three or four part-time jobs that I love. I need nothing else. Yet I cannot escape the overwhelming desire to own a ‘57.
When I was a kid, I did not dream about being married with children. I didn’t think for a moment about what sort of house I would live in as an adult. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. All I knew for certain is that I wanted a ’57 Chevy. At age 45, I still do.
Last night I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV while scrolling through online car ads on my smartphone. As I watched George Bailey fall to pieces after he forgot what was truly important in life, I noticed there are some similarities between us. Whereas George had become obsessed with the money that was missing from the Building and Loan, I have become obsessed with the car that is missing from my garage. As his mind fixated on what he did not have, George failed to appreciate what he did have— family, friends, house, etc. I am guilty of the same crime.
At the point in the movie when it occurred to George just how great his life actually was, I heard a commotion coming from the room of my 16 year-old son Alex. But it was not the sound of him shouting at his friends while playing video games online as I was accustomed to hearing. Instead, it was the sound of raucous laughter.
Specifically, it was the sound of raucous laughter coming from all three of my children. Alex had apparently switched off his Xbox, gotten out all of his Star Wars toys (and mine), and invited his younger siblings to play with him—an exceptionally rare occurrence these days.
Suddenly I found myself watching George Bailey hugging his family as the townspeople of Bedford Falls rallied around him through tears in my eyes. At the same moment George was realizing that he was the luckiest man alive, my children’s laughter, (one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard,) drowned out the noise of the TV, and I realized that I am, in fact, the luckiest man alive.
And I realized that no car could ever make me feel that way. Thanks, Clarence.