Sunday, December 27, 2015

Scrooge: A Man and His World Transformed

All through A Christmas Carol (1843), the ghosts of Jacob Marley and Christmases Past, Present, and Future have all been working to weaken Ebenezer Scrooge’s Olympian self and strengthen his Christian one. By the fifth and final chapter, they have succeeded. If the first chapter described Ebenezer at his dreary Olympian worst, this last correspondingly describes him at his radiant Christian best.
Ebenezer experienced as significant a transformation of personality as is humanly possible. If Olympian Ebenezer replied to every contrary opinion with a contemptuous “humbug,” Christian Ebenezer rediscovered the gentle art of laughing. “There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered! There’s the corner where the Ghost of Christmas Present sat! There’s the window where I saw the wandering Spirits! It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened. Ha ha ha!”

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long, line of brilliant laughs!
This merriness started to infuse all he did. He ordered an enormous turkey with which to surprise and delight—anonymously—the Cratchit family. When the butcher brought it to Ebenezer and he saw how large it really was, he realized “it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town,” said Scrooge. “You must have a cab.”
The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy [who fetched the butcher], were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled until he cried.
Olympian Ebenezer had been a spiritual vampire. One way he enjoyed sucking vitality out people was by regarding other people on the street with contemptuous indifference. Christian Ebenezer was quite different. Now, Scrooge regarded everyone with a pleasant smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said, “Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!"
The day before, Olympian Ebenezer had rudely treated two gentlemen who had come to his office on behalf of poor people. He had felt perfectly justified in sending them away empty-handed. Now, when he accidently met them on the street, he repented of his previous behavior.
“Mr. Scrooge?”
“Yes,” said Scrooge. “That is my name, and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the goodness”—here Scrooge whispered in his ear.
“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were gone. “My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious?”
“If you please,” said Scrooge. “Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that favour?”
….He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars…and found that everything could yield him pleasure.
He decided he would accept the invitation to dine with his nephew Fred after all and presented himself at Fred’s house.
“Why bless my soul!” cried Fred, “who’s that?”
“It’s I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred?”
Let him in! It is a mercy he didn’t shake his arm off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could be heartier…Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!
Finally, the day after Christmas, when Bob Cratchit arrived late to work as expected, Christian Ebenezer did the wholly unexpected. He gave his clerk a raise!
“A merry Christmas, Bob! said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another I, Bob Cratchit!” Because of this miraculous change of heart, Tiny Tim lived.
Like Ebenezer, we too have a wholly Olympian personality as well as a wholly Christian one. The two struggle for expression through the one body they share. Over time, however, one usually grows stronger at the expense of the other. May our Christian personality, like Ebenezer’s, grow in strength as we hear the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future speak to our lives as they did to his. May we each then be a transforming  presence in our little world as he was in his.
Of Christian Ebenezer, it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed this knowledge. May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

Copyright © 2015 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.