The Advent of a Carol

The Advent of a Carol

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By Blaney Pridgen

My sister recently told me that she always rereads A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens this time of year or she views one of the many movie versions.  She says it never fails to get her into a positive Christmas spiritwhen there is so much else to make one dread the Christmas hurly burly.  Come to think of it, I believe I have always watched all or a part of one of the movies when I came upon it surfing and streaming about.  The story speaks in so many ways as to what Christmas can be, even in an explicitly Christian sense.  I might go so far as to say that A Christmas Carol carries within it the spirit of Jesus in a Victorian parable.  Reading it or watching it keeps Christ in Christmas, as good as the stories from Matthew and Luke.

Consider the transformation of Scrooge.  He not only has the wits scared out of him by the macabre Ghost of Christmas Future, which is to say his impending mortality.  Scrooge also discovers a social conscience. We hope that his Christmas “come to Jesus” might lead to more than just the goose gift.  Did he begin to give a living wage to his employees and something like healthcare and maybe even a little profit sharing in some form?  Perhaps keeping Christ in Christmas is much more about what will happen in Scrooge’s new life in a new year.  Certainly, it is much more about living the abundant life in the here and now and not just about getting one’s cosmic ticket punched for entrance into the afterlife.  

Consider the moral inventory Scrooge experiences through all three Christmas ghosts.  It is not so much about sins and sinning, but about the opportunities missed to live right for oneself and especially for others.  For Scrooge, it’s not the presence of evil but the absence of good which haunts him.  In the end, the Carol is about right relationships, which is the best understanding of righteousness, not just legal rule keeping.  If one is concerned about one’s personal end times, that is some kind of final judgment; then, one might begin reflecting on the care and feeding of future relationships and the healing of relationships wounded in times past.  As the sun rises on Christmas Day, that is precisely the dilemma Scrooge must face.  Sure feels like keeping Christ in Christmas to me.  

Consider the overall agency of ghosts in Scrooge’s Christmas Eve.  Regardless of how we might feel about the bumps in the night and Stephen King’s stories, we all have our ghosts with which to contend.  We all have a Marley in our memory occasionally visiting our consciousness.  We all have our invisible chains rattling in the candlelight of our minds.  Perhaps these several weeks before Christmas is a good time to let the ghosts out of the closet and thereby enjoying Christmas with a refreshed conscience for New Year’s.  Face up to making relationships better.  That’s the best Christmas gift grown up Jesus might say.

Consider this final matter implicit to the Carol.  Life is not all sweetness and light, perhaps precious little sweetness and light at all.  Scrooge had some very rough experiences growing up and coming of age.  He was a lonely outsider.  And there’s always a Tiny Tim who suffers, lots of them all over the world.  Living is not about avoiding bad things; life is about how we face into and handle whatever bad things will come.  We can choose good in the midst of it all, even bad dreams and dreams lost and no dreams at all.  

Nonetheless, I refuse to Christianize Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman or the Ghost of Black Friday Past.