It’s A Wonderful Life

By Bill Stimpson, Associate Editor

Bill Stimpson & Domino Everyone can examine their life and identify from their past what I call life moments. Some of those memories might be the obvious: Graduation day, a wedding, a vacation of a lifetime, or a memorable birth or death. But often these life moments are less obvious at the time and not even appreciated until later, upon reflection.

One such memory for me came on Christmas Day 1992. And every time I recall this memory, not only do I experience the immense joy of the moment – but I also realize its deeply meaningful significance in my life.

Setting the stage

At the age of 25, things were finally coming together for me. Within the prior two years, I had moved away from home and landed my first “real” job. By the time December rolled around, I had even managed to hold on to a girlfriend for an entire six months. Things were definitely changing!

My new girlfriend (Michelle) and I were sharing our first holiday together. Christmas weekend that year left me home alone, with my two roommates both out of town. Our bachelor’s pad was a central place for our friends to hang out, so it was a very rare moment when one of us guys had the house to ourselves.

Since I worked evenings, our delightful Dalmatian, Domino, had become a special companion to me, as we so often spent late-night quality time together.

Bill Stimpson, Mark, Eric & Domino

Mark, Eric, and me with our additional roommate, Domino

Michelle and I juggled various Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family gatherings. It was now Christmas night and we were ready to lay low. We took a second peek at our presents, and found that one of the stocking stuffers we received was a holiday movie classic that neither of us had seen – a VHS copy of It’s a Wonderful Life . We decided it was the perfect time to see why this was noted as one of the greatest movies of all time.

Preparing for the movie

It was a treat to be alone together in the townhouse. We got comfortable and started a fire in the big fireplace, right next to our Christmas tree. We dimmed the lights and even rearranged the furniture so we could have a front row seat for the feature film. Domino quietly watched us get ready, and then we presented him with his special gift-wrapped Christmas present – a brontosaurus-sized rawhide bone.

So…Domino was content on the floor for a while with his bone, and Michelle and I were all ready to sit back, relax, and watch the movie.

Michelle Larson & Bill Stimpson_1st Christmas

Christmas at the bachelor pad (note the spots in the foreground)

Unsure of what to expect from a movie more than 40 years old, we were both pleasantly surprised. It was truly a timeless and powerful film.

Toward the end of the movie, I sat with my two closest friends on either side of me, after Domino made a rare appearance on the couch – which was normally against the rules. Domino sat still, facing the TV, and seemed to be watching the movie along with us.

It was in this unique setting where one of my great “life moments” took place. During the emotional scenes at the end of the movie where the main character, George, realizes how wonderful life is – I, too, made the discovery.

My life moment

As the three of us sat watching the film credits, I had my left arm around Domino and my right arm around my future wife. Joyful tears flooded my eyes as I basked in the warmth from both the message of the film and my incredibly cozy surroundings. At that moment I not only witnessed what was truly important in life, but I also experienced it at the same time.

Slightly embarrassed as a young man might be with a face full of tears, I still couldn’t help but share my insight with Michelle. She quietly relished in the moment, too, and then suggested taking a picture to capture that moment of the three of us forever. Of course it was a great idea, but I quickly said that no picture was necessary since the experience would be perfectly etched in my mind for eternity.

Looking back, I’m happy I didn’t disrupt the moment searching for my camera.

The meaning of the moment

Reflecting back on this experience today in my mid forties, I’ve tried to pinpoint why, exactly, I always feel such an overwhelming flood of emotions when I think of that evening.

Part of it was the magic of the holidays, especially knowing now that this was the first of many I would spend with Michelle. Part of it was the powerful message of the movie. Part of it was also that this was an essential experience in my development – a pivotal point in my transition from an overgrown partying teenager (see bottles in the photo above)…into a responsible adult man. These all played a part in the “specialness” of the moment.

But what makes the moment most special is the fact that Domino was only around for such a brief period in my life. Sadly, we lost him the following summer at the far-too-young age of only a year-and-a-half.

Domino was a unique and special friend for me – one whose entire life coincided with my brief transition from young man to adult.

We often look back and enjoy all the amazing photos of our extraordinary spotted friend, but nothing will ever hold a candle to that amazing and joyful moment we shared together on Christmas Day, 1992.

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13 Responses to “It’s A Wonderful Life”

  • Lance says:

    That message from “It’s a Wonderful Life”…and do we fully realize the impact we have, and how amazing we are…what a WONDERFUL movie!

    And – your story here today – just highlights the wonder of our world, and how blessed we are when we have these moments, life moments, that touch our soul. What you and Michelle have created in your life – it exemplifies this moment back in 1992, and the deep connections we create.

    And Domino…what a great part of the transition to the man you are today…

  • Barb says:

    New love and puppy dogs at Christmastime! That IS a wonderful life, Bill, and you are wonderful for sharing your memories and emotions of that special Christmas night in your life. Thanks for this gift!

  • Bruce says:

    Thanks Bill!

    You and Michelle are so gifted in your abilities of conveying these kinds of moments. That is a beautiful story!
    Merry Christmas to you two!


  • Connie says:

    You both have made my life wonderful………every day knowing you, thinking about you, praying for you, sharing with you…..will forever be something I am grateful for.

    Merry Christmas – Love to you both!

  • Char says:

    Thank you Bill for this beautifully told moment of your wonderful life! Oh how precious these moments are and for you to realize this at such a tender age is just amazing! You brought such a warm smile to my face and heart!!
    Love you lots!
    Auntie Char

    Give that beautiful wife of yours a hug from me!! Love you both!!!!

  • Bill,

    Thanks so much for sharing this moment with us. As you convey so well, it’s moments like these, not the size of our paychecks or homes, we will remember most.

    Merry Christmas,


  • Jane says:

    Typing through teary eyes I just realized that Domino was the same age in dog years as our son Tommy was when they died! Domino was only a year and Tommy was 7. What blessings!!

    Bill,the photo of you holding Domino is such a treasure! Now you and Michelle hold each other. :)

    You guys are such gifts to all us readers amidst your stories and love! Your friendship helps remind us it IS a wonderful life!

  • Bill says:

    Thanks everyone for your kind and generous words! I’ve really enjoyed reliving the experience all over again…and memories are always more special when you can share them with others.
    Happy Holidays!

    PS – was that a “ding” I just heard? Perhaps a spotted angel just finally got his wings?

  • Brenda Ryan says:

    Hey Bill,
    Thanks for sharing your story. I love that movie as it shows how one person (even animals) have such a long lasting ripple effect even in seemingly terrible circumstances. God always takes the bad events and transforms them into a multitude of blessings. May you have a very blessed 2011.


  • Rochelle Gale Weber says:

    WOW! what an awesome story of a special night for the three of you! Christmastime is so magical…and stirs the soul not only with excitement, but with overwhelming emotion…and that is exactly what happened to you. A young man falling in love with his special female companion….and feeling the rewards of the special love he has for his canine companion! Could life get any better for a young man? The spotted angel did get his wings…and he is always by your side. Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us. You are dearly loved! Auntie.

  • Janice says:

    Love the story. Love the pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sarah says:

    Ah cousin Billy. What a great story. I always thought you were a math geek and here you were hiding a secret writing talent!!! I am so proud of you and Michelle for making your own wonderful life together. Very inspirational!!! Love you!

  • SHARON says:

    ………powerful…I have the goosebumps! wonderful Bill….I can “feel” the love and purpose and impact of that night….what a wonderful memory to relive and relive! I understand the loss of Domino too….having him and your love, Michelle, right there with you that night….you couldn’t have asked for anything more in the world! Sometimes I wish we could freeze those moments, don’t you??!! RIP Domino….romp around Heaven and find my Patches..she was black and white too…she will dance with you! XOXO

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

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