God bless us, everyone!
This time of year makes me intensely nostalgic. I long for my childhood home and the people who populated it: my grandparents, my mom, my cousins and even my dog, Gus. Each of them in their own way made life magical and every time autumn rolls around and the days get shorter and the nights longer, and as I pile blankets on my bed, I feel my heart swell as memories flood in.
As much as I love Thanksgiving, as soon as it’s past, I come flying out of the closet with my Christmas music (because I’ve already been listening to it since early November) and watch a long list of Christmas movies. Some favorites are Love Actually, Home Alone, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, but because my mom used to read it to me when I was little, I especially love A Christmas Carol.
My two favorites are the 1951 version with Alastair Sims and the 1984 version with George C. Scott. Both the Christmas season and this story are like a time machine that takes me back across the years to my longed-for childhood home and its people. With each old family recipe I make and every tradition I uphold, their spirits surround me and fill me with great joy. Their nearness comforts and transforms me. In much the same way the spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Yet To Come do to old Scrooge. Not that I’m a bitter old miser, not even close. But in this harsh and divisive era, when the world is such a mess and it seems we’ve lost our very humanity, every act of kindness makes me tearful and renews my hope.
Apart from cultivating a spirit of generosity, this story is about rediscovering joy. I can see my grandfather now, who loved Christmas better than anyone, dancing a little jig with his arms behind his back as we all gathered to open presents. So much like old Fezziwig, was he, whirling his plump, good wife around the dance floor. My grandmother wouldn’t be caught dead dancing but she did have eggnog at the ready, laced with a healthy dram of cheer. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to look upon a scene of one of my own Christmases past and see those dear faces and hear their laughter again
I can’t help but draw a comparison to A Christmas Carol to our present day world. The hallmark of great art is that it remains relevant and this story certainly does with Scrooge representing egregious self-interest and then there are the very real repercussions of ignoring the poor and downtrodden, especially poverty-stricken children like Tiny Tim. Along with the two ghoulish children hidden in the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present, representing Ignorance and Want. What a dangerous duo they are.
Charity and altruism never go out of style and who couldn’t use a heaping helping of redemption?
There is such insight in this story and each time I watch it I thank my lucky stars I learned at the feet of a man and his family who were gifted with joyful spirits, like the Fezziwigs. Who gave me wonderful memories and who treated everyone with kindness, generosity and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas every day. I vow to keep their example and these principles at the forefront of my mind all year long, in hopes of both, being a better person and keeping my beloveds ever closer to the surface of my existence.
So, “This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Think first of someone else. Be kind and gentle. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again.” ~Anonymous
God bless us, everyone!