Sunday, January 10, 2010
Keep The Christmas Spirit
One of my favorite Christmas stories is a story of how we can change our lives. This story is called A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It was written nearly 200 years ago but is still relevant and popular today. The Christmas Carol is a story about a man named Ebeneezer Scrooge who was filled with hate. Even though he was still walking around, eating, sleeping, working, etc, his heart was stone cold and darkness filled his life. He didn't like anyone, not even himself. One night Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by the ghost of his late partner. He noticed that Marley was dragging a heavy chain made of "cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel." Marley told Scrooge, "I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it." I wonder what my chain is made of and what is hanging from it. Scrooge questioned, "Why do spirits walk the earth?" Marley answered, "It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world … and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness." Scrooge stated that Marley "was always a good man of business." To this, Marley cried, "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business." After the ghost of Marley departed, Scrooge was visited by three spirits. The first spirit referred to himself as the Ghost of Christmas Past. This spirit took Scrooge back through his childhood, youth, and young adulthood. He saw the kindness of his younger sister and the pretty young woman that he had once loved but lost because he was too interested in money. The second spirit referred to himself as the Ghost of Christmas Present. This spirit showed Scrooge the citizens of his area. They were living in less than pleasant circumstances but were happy. He saw people preparing to observe Christmas with faith, food, family and friends. Scrooge saw the family of Bob Cratchit, particularly crippled Tiny Tim. This family was very poor but happy and full of love. Bob worked for Scrooge, but Scrooge didn't pay him enough to support his family. Scrooge saw his nephew who was trying to be kind to Scrooge and include him in his life, but Scrooge thought his nephew wanted only his money and wouldn't have anything to do with him. The third spirit was the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. This spirit showed Scrooge as a dead man who was unloved and unmourned. It also showed the Cratchit family in a state of deep mourning for Tiny Tim. When Scrooge returned from the last visit, he realized that he was still alive and capable of changing his future. He became friendly with his nephew, raised the salary of Bob Cratchit and helped the struggling Cratchit family. He made mankind his business. He became a good friend, a good employer, and a good man. Christmas is a season when a peaceful, calm feeling of love is in the very air. It is a time when most of us are a little more tolerant of the bad behavior of other people and a little more helpful to the poor and needy. It is a time when we dig a little deeper in our pockets, wallets, and purses to purchase gifts for those we love and to help other people, even strangers, to have a happier Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ. The feeling in the air is love. It is through the love of Christ for us that we have the ability to love other people. It is something that we can keep with us all the time. A favorite comic of mine is a Family Circus by Bill Keane. The picture is of a mother boxing up and putting away Christmas decorations and a little boy speaking to his mother: "Grandma says when we put away the Christmas things … we shouldn't put the Christmas Spirit away with them." I am still enjoying my Christmas decorations but have decided to put them away this week. I've decided to do something a little different this year. I will keep one of my many Nativity scenes out in the open to remind me to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive in my home. It will help me to remember that Jesus Christ is the reason that we celebrate Christmas and that it is possible to have His Spirit with us always. It will help me to remember Jesus Christ and the love that He has for each of us. I hope that it will help me to be more loving, kinder and more gentle to those around me.