There’s so much to do and increasingly little time to do it all. And because so many of us are out and about, rushing to get it all done in time, we find ourselves getting in each other’s way.
On the roads, horns are honking and drivers wave their arms at each other in frustration, never minding the fact that everyone else is delayed by traffic as well.
On the lines in the store, people roll their eyes at clerks who are slow, never minding the fact that they’ve been on their feet for 10 hours and might not have gotten to their own shopping yet.
And when talking to friends and acquaintances, people are sometimes a little short because they are rushed, they are hurried, they’re running out of time and starting to get worried.
But in the end it all works out, and on Christmas Eve we might find ourselves sitting down and enjoying some music and the company of close friends and family. We might find ourselves wishing joy to the world, and peace to all and to all a good night.
It’s a good feeling, and it helps us forget that for the past three weeks we’ve been grouchy and grumpy and consumed with madness. It might not occur to us that in an effort to keep Christmas well, that we find ourselves temporarily resembling a certain fictional character we see a lot of this time a year.
That character, of course, is Ebenezer Scrooge.
What words leap to mind when you hear that name? Mean. Cheap. Greedy. And, of course, humbug.
Ebenezer Scrooge was all of that, and more. He was impatient with others. He was rude and unloving to his family. He was nasty and ungenerous to his employee, Bob Cratchit.
But as we come to learn through a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past, there were reasons for all of that.
His father was a cruel man and showed him no love. His beloved sister Fan died young. And he also lost the love of his life, his fiancée Belle.
One lesson we can take from that is that the person honking their horn and flashing obscene hand gestures at you on Woodhaven Boulevard might be carrying their own chains of pain and misery. You just don’t know what problems others are dealing with in their lives when, in a moment of frustration, they lash out at you.
Don’t add to that pain, let it go. And maybe that generosity of spirit helps lift that person above the painful issues they carry. After all, isn’t that what happened to Ebenezer Scrooge?
Remember, the entire point of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is that Mr. Scrooge ends up seeing the error of his ways. His story is one of redemption, not failure.
As the story ends, it is said that Scrooge “became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world,” and that “it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.”
So, calling someone a Scrooge should really be seen as a compliment, not an insult. We should all aspire to be like Ebenezer Scrooge, not just by keeping Christmas well, but by being as good a person as we can, all the year round.
Be generous to your friends, your family, and your neighbors. Not with dollars and cents, but with your good spirits. Lift up the phone and call upon that person you know who might be feeling lonely at this time of year.
Take stock of the people you know and make sure that they know that someone out there cares about them. And if they humbug you for your efforts, don’t get mad. Trust that the message got through, that they know that they are a little less alone in this world. And it might make a difference.
From our family to you and yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas.