By: Jayde Lazier
Photo Credits: "Rain of Snow in Town Painting", Lisa Folios
Christmas is the time of year to break your bank over gifts, fight with your family at the dinner table, and stress yourself out to the max by making sure you have the “perfect” Christmas set up for you and your family. Or at least that’s what it’s become over the years. As we grew up, the world got tough, and we closed off our hearts to the beauty and magic that is meant to surround us this time of year. Christmas used to represent family, kindness, generosity, and miracles, but as many of us grow up, we lose that sense of Christmas magic that we once had as a child. So just imagine with me for a moment how beautiful it would be if we could manage to hold onto that faith of magic and pure Christmas spirit as we grow older.
A novella that teaches us the importance of Christmas magic is one that I’m sure is familiar to most: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This novel teaches us how to find our Christmas spirit even in a heavily materialistic and selfish world. I remember as a child being so excited for Christmas—and not just for the event on the 25th, but the whole Christmas season—because that meant that I got to spend time with my family. We’d sing Christmas carols, bake cookies, and walk around our neighbourhood on Christmas Eve while we admired all the dazzling Christmas lights. It all meant so much more because I was blessed enough to share it with the people I love. But over the years, as I grew older and the prices around Christmas time got higher, I suddenly found myself stressed out beyond belief as soon as November 1st rolled around. I felt like I had to buy the best Christmas presents for my family to show my love. This resulted in me standing in a crowd of people all trying to scavenge for the best gifts we could find in a mall. I would always end up leaving with my bags or my wallet empty, which was not a happy ending. I remember sitting down outside the mall and feeling exhausted, irritated and quite frankly just over the holiday in its entirety. Coming from me, an avid Christmas lover who starts singing Christmas tunes in July, that’s saying a lot.
This is something that Scrooge experiences as well. As a little boy, he is filled with hope and joy for the holiday, but as he grows older and begins to understand that Christmas has developed into a holiday based on materialism, he begins to hate the holiday and slowly finds himself becoming an old and spiteful man. The ghosts in this novel aim to change Scrooge’s outlook on the holiday by reconnecting him to the true meaning of Christmas. They show Scrooge memories from his childhood to try to instill his faith that he can be joyful once again. Then Scrooge is shown a present-day image of a boy named Tiny Tim whose family is barely making ends meet and is dealing with Tiny Tim’s illness. During their family dinner, Tiny Tim shouts out “God Bless Us Everyone!” (Dickens 81), which lets us see that his gratefulness stems purely from having his family around him on Christmas.
Now, the final visitor that Scrooge receives on Christmas Eve is arguably the most important because he shows Scrooge what will happen to him in the future if he continues on his path filled with hate in his heart. The ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge his funeral filled with a bunch of people who were only there to see what they could take from Scrooge because he never spent any time trying to solidify meaningful and loving connections with anyone but himself. This can serve as a warning to me that I needed to remember what Christmas is truly all about. It’s not about the money or the gifts, but about showing kindness to those who may not have it in their lives, being grateful for your family, and having faith in something bigger than yourself. After having learned this lesson, Scrooge goes on to shout, “God Bless Us Everyone!” (Dickens 135), as he races down the snowy street on Christmas morning with his soul dethawed and the magic of Christmas in his heart.
All of this is to say that we all could benefit from a few visits from some Christmas ghosts. I’m only kidding of course, but genuinely, so many of us get so wrapped up in the materialism of Christmas, and by the time the actual day rolls around, everyone is too tired, stressed out, and broke to enjoy it. So, this Christmas, take a page out of Scrooge’s story and allow yourself to forget the gifts and the hustle and bustle. Take a moment to connect with your loved ones in bringing back the true meaning of Christmas.
Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. New York City: W.W Nortin & Company/ The Morgan Library and Museum, 2017.