I re-read or listen to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol every year. I understand this year more than ever how easy it is for any of us to become an Ebenezer Scrooge, as he is seen at the beginning of his story. After a somewhat unhappy childhood and after losing his sweetheart, he has closed himself off from caring and sharing and he has become a real hardass. But in this story, Ebenezer gets a second chance. This is my second-favorite redemption story for Christmas.
It’s A Short Story About Second Chances
Remember, Scrooge sees four spirits on Christmas Eve. His long-dead partner, Jacob Marley, comes first to announce he has arranged for Ebenezer to have a chance to avoid his own (Jacob’s) destiny after death. Marley must roam the earth for eternity, chained to the Greed and Stinginess that defined his life. In death, Marley’s fate is to witness suffering and unhappiness that he could have helped alleviate, had he not become so mean-spirited. But Scrooge will be visited by three ghosts, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. What he does after those visits is up to him. The Past reminds him he had friends and a loving sister. The Present takes him to the Cratchit family, Scrooge’s poorly paid employee. Though they live in poverty, they have so much family love. Also true for Scrooge’s only nephew, shown with his lovely wife and their close friends celebrating the holiday together.
The Spirit Of Christmas Future Hold Up The Mirror
This last ghost never speaks a word. Rather he takes Scrooge to listen to groups of businessmen discussing the death of a peer. They speculate no one will attend the funeral. He takes Scrooge to the room where the body is laid out. The room has been stripped of everything including the bed curtains. He shows the scallywags who emptied the house of the dead man, then sold it to the rag and bone man while laughing about how nobody attended the body of the dead man, so no one stopped them. By now, Scrooge is weeping. He gets it. No one liked him and no one cares that he is dead. No one is mourning his passing, and his legacy is that he is an example of bad choices. Pretty harsh. But Scrooge is returned to his own bedroom, and as the sun comes up on Christmas Day, he realizes he has been given some time to make changes. He can create a new legacy for Ebenezer Scrooge.
What Is It We Celebrate At Christmas?
This story always humbles me. I’m ambitious. I can be aggressive. But every year, A Christmas Carol stops me, gives me pause to look closely at my own choices and my own decisions. We revere Christmas because of the lessons given to us thousands of years after this event. “Love thy neighbor,” “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” We already had a good list of Commandments delivered by Moses, but it was the Redeemer who walked among the people who made everyday life choices extremely personal. And simple. We should love each other and make the choices daily to do the right thing. This commitment to self and to community will secure the legacy of a life well-lived.
In the end, Ebenezer Scrooge’s miracle personality turnaround did change his legacy, and he was best remembered as a man who really knew how to keep Christmas. After my yearly Dickens reminder, I’m more focused on really keeping Christmas as well. I’m going to enjoy gifting and receiving. I’m going to make more of an effort towards “peace on earth and goodwill to men.” Even without office parties and big holiday dinners, I can reach out with phone calls or emails.
Let’s all welcome a new year with warm and open hearts, and after months of having to limit our contact, let’s look forward to hugs and handshakes again. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, in the truest spirit—and “God Bless Us Every One.”
Jason Newburg, 260.243.5100, ext 2101, is the founder and owner of Aptica LLC. This IT management and support company has been serving small to medium-sized businesses for 19 years in the region that includes Angola, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN, Battle Creek, MI, and Toledo OH.