Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010 | 2 a.m.
Instead of retelling the traditional Christmas story today, some Americans may instead reach for Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The past few years would have brought a hearty “Bah! Humbug!” from Ebenezer Scrooge.
This Christmas may look much different from those in the past because of the economy. Although there have been signs of a recovery across the nation, Nevada has lagged. For many families, there is more empty space under the tree this year than in years past.
But Christmas is not a day to dwell on the negatives or economic issues, and it’s much more than a time to exchange presents. It’s a day of hope and redemption, and a celebration that people and circumstances can, and do, change.
As Scrooge’s story goes, he was a miser’s miser. Filled with bitterness, he hoarded his money, denied any sense of charity and let his bile loose on all who came within earshot, particularly his impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit. But on Christmas Eve, Scrooge had an encounter with a string of ghastly visitors. He woke up on Christmas Day badly shaken, and after he realizing he was alive, he changed, bursting forth with cheer and generosity.
He quickly sets about righting his past wrongs, repaying old debts, mending relationships and taking care of Cratchit’s family, particularly the crippled Tiny Tim.
It is a narrative brimming with hope, echoing the original Christmas story. The first Christmas found an impoverished couple, the wife ready to give birth, away from home with no place to stay. The woman gives birth to a child who will change history with his message of hope and peace.
The world could use more hope and peace. There has been too much Scrooge in the past few years, but that shouldn’t overshadow the spirit of the holiday.
Thankfully, at this time every year, we are cheered by heartfelt stories of goodwill being extended throughout the community. Those types of stories are typically noted during the holidays, but they’re common throughout the year. That’s because ingrained in the American character is a sense of charity, the willingness to help one another. Americans are an optimistic people. As a country, we know that no matter the circumstances, there’s a brighter day ahead.
That’s the essence of the Christmas story. Today should be about looking ahead, not dwelling on the past. It is a day of considering the good that we have and of the possibilities of things to come.
There’s a notable scene in “A Christmas Carol” that comes before Scrooge’s change of heart. He has a vision of the Cratchit family’s Christmas, seeing the members gather around a sparse table to celebrate the holiday. Cratchit lifts his cup to toast, grateful for what he has. The family follows, with Tiny Tim crying out, “God bless us every one!”