What is Christmas but Finding Yourself Another Year Older?

"What is Christmas but finding yourself another year older but not an hour richer?" said Scrooge in the shape of my role-playing 9-year-old nephew Alex last Saturday. He had just seen a production of A Christmas Carol at the Shubert in New Haven, Connecticut.

Alex wore his magician's top hat, a black tunic, and a snowman's felt scarf; and he shook a broken plastic saber--a stand-in for a walking stick--as he thundered the words of the famous Victorian cheapskate.

And there he had me: Christmas finds us another year older but not an hour richer.

I couldn't think of an apt reply. He usually role-plays the big elf we all know and love as Santa; here he stood as the very antithesis of that selfless Spirit.

Before I had my coat off, he gave me my stage directions: "Ask me about the poor people, Aunt Sandy."

"Okay, Alex. What about the poor people?"

"Are there no prisons? No workhouses?"

"Scrooge, are you going to be a grouch all day, or what?"

"Don't ask me that, Aunt Sandy. Ask me about Bob Cratchitt."

I did.

"Cratchitt is late!"

"But Scrooge. Why are you such a grouch?"

"I'm not a grouch! I'm rich!"

And there it was: money as a stand-in for happiness

What better argument to counter Scrooge than Scrooge himself? He is the paragon of misery: alone, isolated, sour, dark. Being another year older but not an hour richer is not a very good return on an investment.

Yet, his family loves him and invites him to dinner; the doers of good in town believe his heart can be reached. When they fail, the walk away but not cheerlessly. That Spirit can't be broken.

The less fortunate--let us say the downright poor--are living the Gospel in this Victorian tale. Though money and food and heat and decent clothes would make them feel better, their spirits are not bound by their poverty.

That Spirit is kindness and compassion and good will. Choosing to nurture that kind of spirit changes the world in a steadfast way that is not subject to the cruelty and whims of a workhouse economy.

The exploited people smile in Scrooge's face because they have it in them to do that. In the end, Scrooge wants what they have. In the end, Scrooge makes use of his money to meet the bodily needs of the people who have always held him in their hearts. When the Spirit makes its way through the locked doors of his heart, the Spirit becomes the architect of his undoing.

What is Christmas, indeed.


  1. Thanks for visiting Sandy, Have a nice week end.

  2. Beautiful post!

  3. Anonymous10:44 PM

    More people today need to find the Spirit. I remember that spirit being more present when I was a kid. Maybe that time was more magical with a lot less cares and concerns. I love this time of year, but overall, it doesn't seem like the lyrics of this Burl Ives song anymore...

    A neighbour tipped his hat to me this mornin'
    The landlord even smiled and said good-day
    And I want you to know a stranger said hello
    Christmas can't be far away

    Old tight wad down the street is buying candy
    To pass out to the neighbour kids at play
    The town is on the go
    The weather man said snow
    Christmas can't be far away


    Good will is in the air
    You feel it everywhere
    Christmas can't be far away

  4. wonderful post indeed... Nowadays the Spirit is somehow lost, but there are hopes...

  5. Hey, I stopped by to let you know I posted the stories from my TT - you're up for a prize, so come and see! :-)

  6. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Maybe the spirit of sugarplums seems lost for adults, because now it's our turn to make "spiritedness" (really, another word for spirituality) real for the young ones.

    The spirit is fine here in Cannan, CT, where I shall be working for ten days. I haven't seen a "People's Bank" since 1986, but I saw one today!


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