Will we put Christmas back in the attic?
I cry at Christmas. I'm not ashamed of it. It is a bundle of emotions gathered throughout the prior twelve months that leak out at the end of the year.
A few tears are for the sadness some have at this time of year and the realization that far too many will not have the wonderful memories of the holiday that I do. Some are for those who are not here to share it anymore. Most are because my heart fills up and forces fluid out of my eyes. I don't know the proper medical term for this.
We have around a thousand Christmas CDs. They live in a box upstairs until the day after Thanksgiving and then they come down to fill the house with the spirit of the season.
One of the favorites is by Harry Connick, Jr. – his cut named "When My Heart Finds Christmas." Personally, my heart finds Christmas when I watch a couple of versions of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." I do not like the "classic" Alastir Simm version. Just doesn't do it.
The first version that had an impact on me was "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol," the animated telling of the tale. When I was a kid, it was a very special occasion when it came on TV. The version shown today has been butchered to cut it from 90 minutes to 60, and its magic is diminished but not totally gone.
Next up is the musical "Scrooge" from 1970. Albert Finney plays Scrooge and the music is wonderful. I remember well seeing it in the theater with my high school girlfriend and trying to hide my tears as the heart-bursting closing number sent the singers through the streets of London.
My favorite is from around 1981 or so and was an IBM sponsored production starring George C. Scott as Ebeneezer Scrooge. He overacts the part so beautifully. Go find it.
The original publication of the story helped to revive Christmas as a holiday. Christmas had been outlawed a few centuries earlier, then neglected as nothing special. Then this story showed the value of Advent to the world. It showed the power of love over the dark, the power of love over greed, the redemption that is available to even the meanest man on earth.
The redemption of Scrooge is a great message, but, in true Calvinist form, it is not the only message. A major message is "use well the time that God has given you." When Scrooge realizes that he is not doomed to be just a cold stone in the graveyard, he takes charge of his redemption and begins to respond to the grace he has been given. He did not have to have a life wasted acquiring gold. He had the remainder of his days to bring the Kingdom.
Excuse me, I have to get a tissue.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is something we all have to deal with. I am lucky. My ghost shows me wonderful times. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be is supposed to be the scary one. This is the grim reaper, the embodiment of doom. I'm not too worried about that one.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is the really scary one. He shows Scrooge what he is missing by shunning nephew Fred and the general merriment. He shows the Cratchit family celebrating in love with a few material goods. But, at the end of his tenure, he shows Scrooge the children of his society, "Ignorance" and "Want," and mocks him with his own words, "Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?"
We are still driven by gold and still living in a society callously churning out Ignorance and Want.
What will we do with the days we have left? Will we respond to grace as Scrooge did and attack the world with love, or will we put Christmas back in the attic?