No matter which version of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol that you have seen, you probably know the name of Ebenezer Scrooge. I was reaching the movie Scrooged, which is an irreverent look at the traditional story. I think it might be the truest to form of all of the versions. Instead of thinking of it as a long ago story, it updates it to the excess of the 1980’s. I think it is a honest look at how many of us feel around the holidays. Deep down, we all feel lonely, a little out of control, and extremely misunderstood. It is probably just the natural default from our human condition. I just do not know many people who wake up and immediately think of others.
Scrooge did not think of others, in fact, he pinched pennies so much that his only worker could not afford Christmas for his family. They couldn’t not even afford firewood to heat their house. I think many of us are appalled when we hear this. I think we want to cast ole’ Scrooge under the bus of human decency, but we are hypocrites. We don’t think of people less fortunate than us, we make up excuses why they don’t need our help and why we “need” our money.
We try to keep our distance from the poor, whether they are financially, spiritually, or emotionally needy. It is so much easier to not listen to their stories. It is easier to keep them at a distance.
Teaching elementary and middle school has always helped me to keep myself close to the poor. Going to my local grocery store, I often stand behind people with food stamps. In my neighborhood, people often walk with grocery bags every few days, because they can’t afford a taxi and don’t plan ahead for groceries. I could very easily judge them. I do judge them sometimes. I say things like, “ I went to college and paid for it mostly by myself.” Yet, if I examine that thought, it is far from the truth. My family helped me out a lot. My dad even paid for my car every month while I finished college. I was given thousands of dollars. I was given constant support to keep up with it. No one in my life was saying to quit. I just had cheerleaders for my education.
Yet I, forget about the grace and help that was given to me. I embody Scrooge every time I say or think something like this. I channel his crude way of thinking and usher in the ghosts to visit me.
The ghost of Christmas past reminds me of a few different times. I remember the Christmas that my mom’s friends bought us a Christmas tree, because they were afraid we would not have one. I remember the Christmas where I first purchased gifts for my family and I remember their reactions to knowing that I put a lot of thought into their gifts. I remember the many times that my family gathered all together to play games after opening the presents. I think playing games after Christmas was more fun than actually getting gifts. I would trade for those moments again, I cherish them.
The ghost of Christmas present visits me and reminds me that nearly every person I come into contact with needs to feel the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, even on the days that I don’t feel like it. On the days when my sciatic nerve is making me feel more like kicking people, I need to try harder. I see many of my former friends meeting together and me not attending their parties and gatherings, because I have “better” things to do. For the first year, we are having no one over for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is strange for us.
The ghost of Christmas future sits beside me as I see I must make start making better decisions about my health, making more quality friendships, discipling myself to write more, and a myriad of other things. This ghost has visited me a few times, so I know him well. He sat next to me as I sat, alone with my father after he nearly died of a heart attack. He sat next to me when I was wondering how many more days my wife would be staying in the same house as me. He visited me as I wrecked my car in November. I would love to say it was some kind of flash before my eyes, but for me it is a vivid account that replays in my mind and nightmares at night. He often visit my subconscious, because I am afraid that I am still that same old Scrooge in many ways and I guess I really am. I just know that without Jesus, it is what I will always be. Destined to continual failure without the holy presence of God’s Spirit. I am doubtful, disappointed, downcast for me, but I have a lot of hope in Him.