“Jacob Marley is Dead.”
Had he been real, he would have been dead some 150 years now.
His partner, Ebenezer Scrooge would have died ten years or so later, given the life expectancy of the time.
The Cratchits with “all the little assorted Cratchits”, would have long since passed into history. Even Tiny Tim.
The story however, lives on.
As old as mankind, it portrays the rift between those who have everything and those with nothing.
If you might have missed one of the 400 or so renditions of ‘A Christmas Carol’, is goes something like this.
Ebenezer Scrooge, a wretched, cold hearted, miserly “money counter”, kind of like the Bernie Madoff of the day, loathes Christmas. Or rather, he despises the poor and those less fortunate, refusing to lift a boney finger to alleviate their suffering.
At the other end of the 19th Century socio-economic spectrum, is a family of seven, the Cratchits, with a disabled child and one head of household working for less than a livable wage.
“You, a clerk with a wife and family making 15 shillings a week…” That’s about $95 today.
In the end, Scrooge, played by the likes of Jack Palance, Cicely Tyson or Jim Backus as Mr. Magoo, is redeemed after an experience with those three infallible spirits; Christmas Past, Present and Future. Add to that the ghost of his long dead partner Jacob Marley, and he has his hands full of specters, all in one night.
This story could be told at any time of the year, in any country, any city, town or village.
The disparity between the rich and poor has never been more evident in the U.S., with the wealthy having more and more while the middle class slips ever closer towards poverty.
No longer can the younger generation claim to be better off than their parents.
Over a half million Americans are without stable, affordable, maintained housing. They’re homeless.
So, why so much ado about Christmas?
This, the time of the year that retailers begin planning for in, say January, while the official start of the season is on “Black Friday” (or Thanksgiving) followed by “Cyber Monday” and “Small Business Saturday.”
Interspersed throughout are the endless sales, discounts and daily specials encouraging all to buy, buy, buy and thus, contribute to the economy’s bottom line.
We wish each other “peace, happiness and prosperity.”
You see, it’s all about the spirit. The Christmas Spirit.
That’s the thing we try to capture with all the buying, preparing, wrapping and sharing.
We try to find the exact, unique gift for a loved one, something that will change theirs (and our) lives forever. Like a new Lexus or a Red Ryder BB gun.
We decorate our homes with the latest laser lights, an animated Santa, reindeer, the Grinch and all, in an effort to display our very best image of the season.
We give to charities, The Salvation Army, serve meals to the homeless, finally visit the neighbors.
The spirit and goodwill of the season seems to be without end.
That and year-end tax deductions help to fuel the charity.
Children are more excited at this time of year than perhaps any other, including summer vacation. They know exactly how many days and minutes are left to wait.
Christmas means new snow, new stuff and a week off from school.
As adults, we try to recapture that excitement, the anticipation, that feeling of Christmas that we might have lost or forgotten years ago.
It may be buried beneath layers of family, societal or personal pain. Rejected, addicted or jaded by life it can be hidden, but not denied.
At the end of the story, Scrooge, the Grinch, the population of “Whoville” and those in the “good old cities everywhere”, find the true meaning of Christmas, “The Spirit of Christmas.”
That spirit is in each of us, those who believe and those who do not.
It’s a gift we received over twenty centuries ago. That given by the birth of a single child.
We all have it. The one given by God through his son, Jesus Christ for the salvation of us all.
Go ahead, it’s yours, open it.