I can’t believe it’s already the 22nd day of December, the end of 2014 and the beginning of a new year. Yes, it’s the “holiday” season. This is the time when my head is doing cartwheels. The mail is coming in like crazy. Every charity and cause makes its last possible attempt at giving me the opportunity to be a giving, generous human being. This is the time of year when people are supposed to be kind and loving towards one another. Hmm.
My mind shifts and instantly, I’m thinking of all the stories about Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and whatever else people celebrate at this time of year, including Seinfeld’s, “Festivus For The Rest Of Us,” which is the complete opposite of what I’m going to talk about. But, whatever holiday story there is, they all seem to have a common theme… be a better you.
Unexpectedly, I am rocketed into one of my favorite holiday movies. When I hear the familiar words, “Bah Humbug,” the first thing I want to do is laugh at that nasty old Scrooge character in the Charles Dickens’ famous story, “A Christmas Carol,” whose selfishness sent him on an imaginary journey revealing the true meaning of the “holiday” season.
This story has been read and portrayed by many actors who have taken a greedy, stingy, miserable old miser and plunked him through his past life, brought him to his present life, and portrayed to him the sad, bleak premonitions of his looming future, which with full guarantee, would be filled with pain and regret if he continued with his ugly, nasty behavior.
The audience follows a lonely old man as he travels with those who are referred to as “spirits” and gets the chance to experience what could be his ultimate demise. The story has become a true classic. “But why,” I ask myself aloud, “do people love watching this story play out over and over during the “holiday” season each year?”
Maybe because all of us knows deep down that we can always do better. Maybe because we are looking for a sense of hope. As we go into the season we know that somewhere, there is supposed to be good in the world and in us.
This story has even been put to music and entertains the audience with the mean ole’ Scrooge as well as a comedy movie with interpretations and shenanigans of talents such as Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, and Jim Carey.
But, even with the humor or singing, the point comes across… good overcomes evil just as the attitude of “Bah Humbug” fades from the newly transformed Mr. Scrooge into the attitude of gratitude. In fact, everyone applauds his new outlook on generosity, charity, family and friends. The best part is that all of us have a completely changed view of this old man because even though he was forced by the spirits of his past, his present, and his future to take a close and deep look at who he had become, Scrooge had the courage to take on the challenge of change.
I keep wondering why this is bugging me so much and making me put on my “thinking cap.” I guess it’s about looking at the story of Scrooge as a holiday parable of giving to those who have less than us and sharing with people we don’t even know. Even greater of a lesson is having the courage to look at your character flaws (because that’s all they are, really) and making the change to become better people. This thought has a huge impact on me. We get to see someone finally repent for his misguided behavior. The message is clear and positive as well.
So, let’s take the likings of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge a bit further and apply his lessons to us and give it a more universal theme of resistance to change, studying a situation that needs a second look, and the ability to move on to letting go of old ways that do not work. That’s the hard reality for most of us; I even see it in our youth, with my own children. We can easily get stuck and stay in disarray.
Hey, in reality, Scrooge was lonely. He appeared to like it in the beginning of the tale. However, as we look back on his life, we realize that loneliness and isolation was not what he wanted but circumstances around which he lived pushed him into a corner to become who he was. Fortunately, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. The proof is in his words, “I am not the man I was.”
This is the time of year to realize that we have limitless opportunities to give to others. We can make the choice to do good deeds and be kind to others. Every day we wake up we are given the opportunity to be a better us.
I wonder do we have the courage to change? Does it have to be at the “holiday” time? Hurray for “Bah Humbug!” Hurray for Ebenezer Scrooge! And, mostly hurray for the classic parable of Charles Dickens!