ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
The exclamation, “Bah Humbug!” — first literarily exclaimed in 1843 by the character Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” — best sums up what Christmas means to many people today.
Whether or not the person so exclaiming fully understands the meaning of Christmas as it is intended to be, or is simply expressing what they feel at the moment — or after years of being fed up with seeing the craziness of gift-buying and money-spending and stress build-up over all that buying and spending craziness — remains to be seen.
It is easy for readers to see that Scrooge may have had a not-so-happy life when it gets to the part about The Ghost of Christmas Past. It is never happy to see the woman you could have married and see her enjoying her alternative life surrounded by the happy children that could have been yours after she had to release you from your pledge to marry because of the progressive growth of your selfishness and greed, and to see the friends of your childhood from whom you were somehow estranged, and to feel the sadness of not having treated them all in the manner which they deserved.
Who doesn’t know someone who has suffered from making poor choices at a time they didn’t know any better, or even at a time they simply felt that pursuing profits or self-gratification was more important? Who hasn’t heard someone or another bemoan the fact that they are lonely — and/or alone in the world — likely because of their own choices, and wish they had a chance to go back and choose again. But anyone who has ever seen Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, even though it is not a Christmas movie, knows that even given another chance, or 100 other chances, it will not do any good unless the person has been learning his lessons along the way and progressing in personal peace, love, happiness, and joy.
Who couldn’t profit from seeing his or her mistakes of the past in living color, coupled with what happened as a result of all those mistakes or poor choices? And if you think you didn’t make any mistakes or poor choices, be sure you read or reread “A Christmas Carol” again this year and learn a thing or two from Ebenezer Scrooge’s life of misery and his embittered heart — everything that caused him to be the bellwether of where miserly greed or the “me first” and maybe even “only me” attitude can lead one — and give yourself another chance before this old year ends — to correct your mistakes the best you can, and redo what can be redone, apologize for what can’t be redone, choose to be the new you that you either always wanted to be, or choose to be now, now that you are older and wiser and seeing life through clearer eyes.
Perhaps all those caught up in the “I wish I hadn’t done that” net of poor choices can find some way to learn from their mistakes before the year ends, and go forth as new men (or women) who have shed their old and often very hurtful ways to become the kind of people who will once more be acceptable in polite society, perhaps even to show others — politicians, entertainers like Jesse Smollet, and ALL others, famous or not, who are still scandal-free and hopefully not hiding any soon-to-be-discovered scandal-worthy actions of the past — why being their best selves, even when no one is looking or likely to find out — is the best way to go in order to have a happy and joyful Christmas any time it comes around, and a peaceful and happy end time of life, whether one checks out early or lives to be 100 plus!
But back to the point of this column, and those who are still prone to saying “Bah humbug!” to the whole concept of Christmas; if we only use Charles Dickens’s tale, “A Christmas Carol,” as our one reason alone for changing our life of today (and there are many other reasons to do so), we can still find sufficient reason therein to reflect on the “sins” of our past and the good that is within us that we can still do, hopefully (if only partially) to make up for the poor judgment of our past. I am naive enough to believe that given sufficient reason to change, people do change. And given sufficient reason to forgive, if not purely out of Jesus’ admonition for us to love one another and forgive one another, people might at least give forgiveness a try.
Obviously, the characters in Dickens’s “Carol” were always willing to forgive because they always kept love in their hearts for their dear old uncle. It apparently was that love that brought Scrooge to his new understanding of life, which would evidently be with him for the remainder of his days, even though he first felt the need to throw
away the old wrinkled and wretched suit of selfishness, woven of miserly material and stitched with me-first thread, the minute he realized — thanks to his old partner Marley, who endeavored to warn him of what was coming — how his life would end up if he continued on in his usual way.
The tale had a very happy ending, as we always hope tales will have, yet before we can have our own happy endings, we must learn the meaning of the “intention” of Christmas: whether or not we believe in the baby Jesus being born on December 25th (which was a chosen day), and whether or not we believe in buying and giving out Christmas presents, which is okay with most people, and even whether or not we believe in doing anything special at Christmastime, such as putting up a tree or decorations (I do enjoy the festivities of the season), we
can all practice or enjoy the intention of Christmas as it is meant to be shared in the today of 2021 or any other year.
If we celebrate Christmas “just” by being nicer to those in our world — and even to those in the world at large — Christmas can finally, and forever, reveal itself as a holiday of Love.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at email@example.com.