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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Grayce

Book of the Month: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

TODAY, my sweet beloveds, I bring you a Christmas classic. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We are going to be discussing the importance of this book for one of its most important themes- that of greed and forgiveness.

Now I chose this, because first of all I am really feeling the theme of forgiveness lately. Why, exactly? Frankly I am unsure. Maybe I need to forgive someone. Maybe I need to forgive myself. I’ll figure that out later.

But also, I think that as we move through the holiday season, the idea of forgiveness is really important. Sometimes we hold grudges against friends and family that are unnecessary, and we should just forgive them and move on. If they’re bad toxic people, that’s a different thing. Don’t get me wrong.

And then we also have a lot to forgive ourselves for during the holidays, I think. Whether you’re overcoming mental illnesses and you need to mindfully give yourself grace about eating a food you’re not usually comfortable with, or about having to set boundaries with your parents, or feeling like you’re not as accomplished as someone else at the table. There’s a lot that goes on- the holidays can be a really hard time because of all of the obligations that society and tradition places around the holidays.

Secondly, though, there’s those themes of generosity and greed, like I mentioned. My LOVE LANGUAGE is giving gifts, y’all. I will be honestly with you- right now, I am not well-off financially at all. I’m fine, but I don’t really have extra, ya know? But I will spend the money I have on buying gifts for the people I love, because that’s what I love doing!!! I get that from my dad- the man loves buying a gift at any time of year.

For that reason- I just think that highlighting the joy of generosity is so important. So many people focus on the greed and getting things, and like yeah you get gifts on Christmas but to me there is so much more... it’s so much better to put effort into figuring out what makes you think of someone, what you think they need or what you think would make them happy- that’s good shit y’all.

So, let me start off by summarizing the book. You’ve probably seen the movie, read the book, seen the mickey mouse version- there’s a lot out there. This is a literal classic. But essentially:

The book begins with a mean old man, Ebenezer Scrooge, sitting in his counting-house (which is like where he did business and kept his money) on a freezing cold Christmas Eve, his clerk Bob Cratchit shivering because Scrooge refuses to spend money on keeping his spaces warm. Scrooge’s nephew Fred comes by to invite him to his Christmas party, and Scrooge declines very rudely. And then two gentlemen stop by asking for donations to charity, which Scrooge of course tells them to f off as well.

That evening, after the work is done, Scrooge is in his dark and cold apartment when he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner. The ghost tells Scrooge that as punishment for his greedy, self-serving life, his spirit has been condemned to wander the earth, weighted down by heavy chains. He hopes to save Scrooge from sharing the same fate- and warns him that to do this, three spirits will visit him over the next three nights. The ghost disappears, and Scrooge falls into a deeeeep sleep.

So first the Ghost of Christmas Past hits him up. It’s this little childlike spirit, brightly glowing. It takes Scrooge into his past, visiting previous Christmases and the important moments in his life- like his apprenticeship to a kind and happy man, or his fiancé leaving him because she realized he would always lust for money more than he would love her.

Then, the Ghost of Christmas Present, a massive giant wearing a rich green fur robe, flies Scrooge through London to show him how Christmas will happen that year. This is where Scrooge finds out how badly off the Cratchit family is, as he watches them pull everything they have together to prepare a meager feast in a meager home. Tiny Tim, Bob’s crippled little boy, is so kind and courageous that Scrooge’s heart starts to warm up a lil bit, like the Grinch.

The Ghost of Christmas Present then zooms Scrooge over to his nephew’s warm home, full of people and merrymaking and happiness. Scrooge is delighted by the party, and wants so desperately to be a part of it. At the end of their time together, the Ghost lifts his coattails to reveal two starving children living beneath it, named Ignorance and Want.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come walks Scrooge through a series of scenes related to a man’s death- the most poignant scene being a poor couple who express relief at the death of this man, who had been a strict and unforgiving creditor. Scrooge begs to know the name of this man, whom so many people were relieved to be rid of- and he finds himself in a churchyard, at his own headstone. He begs the spirit to alter his future, and promises to change.

Scrooge wakes up, tucked in his own bed and is OVER JOYED to realize that it’s Christmas Day. He sends a massive turkey to the Cratchit home, and he attends Fred’s party. Everyone is surprised but grateful for these changes. Over the years, he honors his promise to the Spirit and he celebrates Christmas lavishly, donating to charities and providing gifts for the poor and treating Tiny Tim like the child he never had. He learns to treat his fellows with kindness and warmth. He learns generosity, and how amazing it is.

So let's talk Uncle Scrooge and his character development real quick. He is miserly, he is greedy, he hoards all his money up but he is so cheap that he doesn’t even keep a roaring fire in the fireplace to warm his home. And, not surprisingly, even though he holds such wealth- he lacks relationships, which makes him truly the poorest person in the book.

The book is constructed in such a way that we see Uncle Scrooge become aware of the fact that he is missing this major part of life. Thanks to the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge realizes that his nephew, Fred, lives this warm and joyous life where he generously invites everyone in. he even invites his crotchety old uncle, who relentlessly turns him down, and he doesn’t make fun of him or talk down about him- he only feels sad for him, that he doesn’t accept warmth and love. Bob Cratchit, the father to Tiny Tim and Scrooge’s loyal clerk, he gives generously to his family and works hard to ensure that they always have what they need, even though they live in cold and want. The Cratchits have consistently forgiven him for the way he has treated them, even though he hoards far more than he shares.

So that’s why it’s so important that Scrooge realizes what he is missing- he goes through this massive spurt of growth in this one traumatic night, and suddenly he wakes up to realize there’s still time to be a different person. He sends food to Bob Cratchit’s and gives him a raise in a bid for forgiveness, because Scrooge has recognized what he has done wrong. They are so GRATEFUL for his GENEROSITY, and they FORGIVE him so, so easily. And they’ve forgiven him all along, and they have felt bad for him because they realize that he lacks empathy and love.

And the same with his nephew, presumably the only family he has. Scrooge shows up to his home on Christmas, and while Fred is ready for his Uncle’s usual crotchety-ness, he is instead given the warmth he has always craved from Scrooge and forgives his mistreatment immediately. Scrooge realizes what he is missing, takes initiative and is WELCOMED IN with open arms. He realized that Fred and Bob are generous and loving people, and that’s what makes them happy- not money.

Scrooge takes some convincing. It’s a big thing that he goes through- you know, experiencing your own death, being reminded of your selfishness, seeing what he has been missing for all these years, realizing how you’ve hurt other people. That is a lot of SHIT y’all.

But it leads me to this question- why is it so hard for us to see the importance of generosity, kindness, empathy and warmth? Too often we focus on something, just like Scrooge did. We focus on providing a good live for ourselves and our family, maybe, but then that evolves into an obsession with work and money. Or we focus on one thing or another, and it turns into something that is detrimental to us in the long run because it takes away our mindfulness in the moment and it takes away our humanity.

I implore you- this holiday season, learn from Ebenezer Scrooge. We are all going through hard times this year, but I encourage you to be as generous as you reasonably can, because the fulfillment you will receive from that will be so much more than if you just received a physical gift. I encourage you to be kind, to be empathic, to be loving and warm.

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