I am indeed fortunate having, all my life, friends and loved ones from many faiths and cultures. I have celebrated Christmas, Solstice and Hanukkah, been home for the holidays, and many miles away. I have been a stranger, and have welcomed strangers to share some food and warmth. This time of the year is one of reflection for me. How can I better embody the spirit of Christmas not only 1 day of the year, but all 365 days of the year? What are the important lessons of the season I want to incorporate into my life?
One of my favorite authors, Dickens, understood the spirit of Christmas best, I think. His best-known Christmas piece, of course, is A Christmas Carol. (His other Christmas books include The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.) In it, Ebenezer Scrooge, a misanthropic, miserly, nefarious “business man” is visited by the Spirits of Christmas who show him the pain and sorrow his selfish ways have caused, and offer him the hope of redemption. It is a sad statement, and perhaps human nature that Scrooge is as alive today as he was 150 years ago. There is hope, though. If Scrooge could turn things around, perhaps anyone can. After all, Scrooge didn’t change his true nature, for it was there all along, buried within and forgotten. He just needed to be reminded (albeit rather drastically) that he was connected to humanity and his actions did affect others. And, as Dickens tells us of Mr. Scrooge: “…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
It is my wish that this season turn around a few more Scrooges, welcome in a few more strangers, and touch our hearts to the Spirit of Christmas now and for another 365 days.