ME AND SCROOGE
In each of my three novels, Acquisition, Sell Out, and The Investment, there is a character who is similar to Ebeneezer Scrooge, the principal character in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Each of these men has exalted money and the making of money to a point where it controls his life and actions.
The Bible says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (NIV) The three characters in my novels bear witness to that truth.
In a few days, my wife and I, together with our youngest son and his wife and our six grandchildren will go to see “A Christmas Carol”. I’ve been watching Scrooge each year for over twenty years. It is, for me, the start of the Christmas season. Unlike two of the three characters in my novels, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is a tale of the redemption and conversion of a man. Let’s run through the play as it will unfold on the stage before us:
Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit will try to warm his hands on a candle after Scrooge berates him for attempting to sneak a lump of coal into the brazier. His nephew, Fred, will bounce into Scrooge’s counting house full of Christmas good will, wish him a “Merry Christmas” and give him a gift, which the old miser rejects. Two businessmen will be rebuffed when they seek to involve Scrooge in giving to the poor.
Marley’s ghost will clank down the theatre aisle burdened by his boxes of money and a length of chain. A beautiful spirit of Christmas Past will descend from the ceiling and lead the old man into a re-hash of his past. The young Scrooge’s employer, Mr. Fezziwig, will shut down his business and lead a merry party on Christmas Eve and a young Scrooge will propose to his sweetheart, Belle. That happy scene will be replaced by a darker scene when Belle gives him back the ring saying that another (love of $) has replaced her in his heart.
A chubby, jolly, spirit of Christmas Present will roar with joy of the season but unveil two urchins, ignorance and want. Scrooge will see the love that permeates the home of Cratchit and his family and learn that the odds of Tiny Tim’s survival aren’t very good. He will see his nephew and friends making merry at Scrooge’s expense and begin to wish he might have done better by them all.
A dark cloaked specter with a scythe will beckon Scrooge to visit a gravesite and he will see people casting lots for his bed clothes and curtains and cackling at the thought of it. Two businessmen will discuss his passing and one will volunteer to attend the funeral only if there is a meal. Scrooge will look at the gravestone and see his name etched in fire upon it and scream out in agony at the realization of how his life will end.
Scrooge will awaken from his nightmare and bounce around on his bed from the sheer job of knowing that he has been given another chance to make good in life. He will throw open the window of his room and shout down to a passing youth “What day is this?”. Upon learning that he hasn’t missed Christmas after all, he will send a huge, anonymous turkey to Bob Cratchit’s family and put on the bright red scarf that he had flung in the trash when Fred gave it to him on the previous day. He will arrive to a shocked nephew’s house on Christmas day, begging to be allowed to spend Christmas with the son of the sister who had loved him as a boy.
Lastly, he will get to work early the next day to be sure to catch Cratchit arriving late and growl that he won’t stand for this type of behavior any longer and that because of Cratchit’s behavior he is giving him a raise and that Cratchit must immediately buy more coal so that the counting house can be as warm as Scrooge’s heart has become.
The narrator’s voice will announce that:
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He 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. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”
The cast will bow before a standing ovation and we will depart into the cold New York winter afternoon. My Christmas season will have begun and I will share, once again, the spirit of a man reborn into a new appreciation for the season and for his fellow man.
In my novels, one of the three characters, like Scrooge, is reborn into a new way of life. He experiences the love of God through the gift of Jesus Christ and turns his life over to God. While “A Christmas Carol” stops short of crediting Scrooge’s changed life to a new-found faith in Jesus, I choose to believe that, unseen in the play, the hand of God has touched him in much the same way. Tiny Tim Cratchit, in the moving finale of the story is perched high upon Scrooge’s shoulder and shouts for all to hear.
“GOD BLESS US EVERYONE!”
And that is what I wish for each of us this Christmas season, that God would, as he did so many years ago in a stable in Bethlehem, reach down to show His love for each of us and that we, like Scrooge, would embrace a new life…a new life in Christ!