My hands-down favorite Christmas movie is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” starring the incomparable Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1950’s version.
As many times as I have watched this wonderful (and surely the finest version of “A Christmas Carol” movie), I still laugh, clap and cry through it all. This movie (and the book) is all about redemption.
The promise of redemption is true for all of us, no matter how hard we have become or what we have done. Up until the day we take our last breath, there is always hope for us.
Redemption is a two-way street; you must make some changes in your life to have your own life change. It’s too easy to become immersed in our own lives, and why not? We have our families, our jobs, our responsibilities, and so on.
In Webster’s Dictionary, the word, “redeem,” means ‘to recover ownership by paying a specified sum.’ It also means ‘to set free; rescue,’ and ‘to make up for.’ In Scrooge’s case, he was warned by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, to mend his ways; to redeem himself while he had time.
He went on to tell Scrooge that, unless he changed his attitude, he would be doomed, as Jacob was; to walk the earth and be forced to see how his actions affected and harmed others. As a spirit, he was constantly tormented for not being able to make amends, as much as he now wished to.
But Scrooge, being Scrooge, declared it all “*humbug!”
If you have never read “A Christmas Carol,” do; it’s a worthwhile tale. Scrooge willingly put his business first before everything in his life, therefore losing out on love and marriage and friendship, as well as a close relationship with his only living relative; his nephew, Fred, son of his late beloved sister, Fanny.
Years and years went by, and Scrooge’s entire life revolved around business and money. He viewed other human beings as insignificant and bothersome. He showed no one mercy or kindness, and was hated by everyone.
However, following Jacob Marley’s visit where he was told that he would be visited by three spirits in the night, Scrooge went to bed declaring it again a humbug. But visited he was that very night.
The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, showed him his lonely childhood; sent off to school by a father who blamed him for the death of his wife, who died giving birth to Scrooge. He later saw his younger self, going into business for the first time.
He was also saw the love of his life, Alice. At that time, the only ring he could afford was a cheap one, but, as Alice said, it was made beautiful by their love.
Gradually he was shown how his growing avarice and ruthlessness in business eventually cost him Alice. She told him that gold had become his God, and gave him back his ring. As he left her, she said, “May you be happy in the life you have chosen.”
The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, showed Scrooge how the world embraces Christmas, rich and poor alike. He showed him that his Alice had never married, and had devoted her life to helping and comforting others.
Before he left, he warned Scrooge about the dangers of want and ignorance, and how he should consider that mankind was indeed Scrooge’s real business.
The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, visited him last. This spirit showed him the market place, with Scrooge’s business associates talking about someone they thought would never die, but indeed did die the night before.
He watched helplessly as his housekeeper, Mrs. Dilber, took his velvet bed curtains and best linen nightshirt to sell. He asked the spirit if what he saw was what would happen or what might happen. In answer, the spirit took him to a lonely graveyard, and pointed out a large tombstone.
“Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge.
`No, Spirit. Oh no, no.’
The finger still was there.
`Spirit.’ he cried, tight clutching at its robe,’hear me. I am not the man I was….Why show me this, if I am past all hope?’
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
`Good Spirit,’ he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: ‘Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life.’
The kind hand trembled.
`I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone.’
After communing with these three spirits all through the night, Scrooge awakens in his own bed. He rejoices to be alive, and grateful that Mrs. Dilber in fact did not sell his curtains and nightshirt. He then celebrates Christmas largely.
This is just a fragment of the beauty, richness and redemptive spirit of this wonderful book. If you read it, you will gain much from it. If you watch the movie, you will also profit from it. Most of all, the message is clear: there is truly hope, love, joy and redemption for us all.
And regarding Ebenezer 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! And so, as **Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
Merry Christmas to us all!
*Nonsense or drivel
**The crippled son of Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit.