Our faculty book club’s selection for December 2012 was the haunting Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. While it is true I have read this Victorian classic many times before, the promising shadows of hope continue to inspire me.
The story’s backdrop consists of all the standard ideologies of Christmas: family, selfless love, and happiness…at least for this one day on the year’s calendar. Clouding these warm ideas is a pervasive fog of one man’s misery. Scrooge has made a good living (at least in
his mind) by being frugal, rigid, and overly task oriented. He doesn’t make time or effort to get to know anyone or allow anyone to really know him. Maybe it was because of his time sent off to school as a young boy. Maybe it was because of regret and guilt brought about by the untimely death of his business partner, Jacob Marley. Maybe it was because showing any sort of emotion meant weakness.
Scrooge’s attitude toward family, selfless love, and happiness was, quite simply, ‘Bah humbug!” He preferred being alone, counting every pound in his pocket, and believing happiness was wrapped up in these first two endeavors.
The final ‘Stave’ lifts the fog. As dreary as Scrooge was, the light penetrates outwardly from his heart as the story draws to a close. Scrooge finally awakens and confesses, ” ‘ I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.’ ” He realizes where happiness is drawn and promises to share that experience with others.
As I finished reading, yet again I felt an overwhelming amount of hope that opportunities present themselves daily for each of us to turn our lives around. As long as we are living and breathing on this earth, we have the chance to do good, the chance to help others.
Finally, isn’t it true that genuine happiness is in the giving of ourselves to others? As Dickens writes, “…it was always said of him (Scrooge), that he knew how to keep Christmas well…. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”