The Ghost of a ‘Me -My’ Future
In the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, we recount the story of a wealthy banker, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. I always loved this story and the many retellings of the story as time passed because the theme and relevance in life is so broad and yet so very specific for what I need to hear each Holiday Season. So, I’d like to take a look at this story piece by piece and expound on some of the thoughts I have, reading the classic in 2020.
The story begins by setting the tone with Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve all those years ago. He shows us his character, revealed in how he treats others who can do nothing for him in return. He lives a Me-My lifestyle where nothing matters except for what pleases him and what will profit him in the end. Disgusted by the thought, he refuses an invitation for dinner with his nephew, Fred, the son of his late sister. He turns away a pair of gentlemen who are asking for a donation to provide food and heating for the poor. The old miser grudgingly allows his underpaid and overworked banking clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off with pay, only because this conformed to the social custom of the day. He looked at himself and made business decisions and life choices based on the Me-My lifestyle.
That evening he was visited by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley, who told Scrooge of his fate after his death nearly seven years earlier. He spoke of his own ‘Me-My’ Lifestyle and told Scrooge that after death he was doomed to roam the Earth, tangled in chains attached to money chests he could never open because of a lifetime of greed and selfishness. Marley tells Scrooge that he regrets ignoring the needs of his fellowmen in life, but alas, it is too late to ever make amends for his Me-My lifestyle. He then pleads to Scrooge, his still living friend, to change the way he treats others or he, too, may face the same fate. He warns that the three Spirits of Christmas will come to visit him that evening.
And so they did, beginning with the Ghost of Christmas Past, who took Ebenezzer on a journey through time where he was forced to watch and remember his lonely childhood, his only familiar relationship which was with his now deceased sister, Fran and a Christmas party hosted by his first employer, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated him like family when no one else did.
I’d like to pause there and remind us all to look at where we came from. Someone had to care for us when we were children. They had to provide for us when we couldn’t do so ourselves. When we started making our own choices, we had people who cared about us who guided us and inspired us and taught us so that we could become better. Most of us were born into the middle or lower class. Our parents fought to give us a better life than they had when they were growing up, and now we fight for better futures for our kids and grandkids. One day, when we are old and frail, we will rely on others to take care of us once more. We have been and will be cared for, so why do we not care for others likewise?
This is especially true with families. These are the people that you have spent the most time with and know better than anyone else. They should be the easiest to love and care for, and yet, many of us find them the easiest to overlook and neglect. Right there, in your own family tree people are hurting as they battle unseen demons and unspoken feelings. Yet, we do not see it. We do not hear those cries for help. Hearing this, I hope you will be more cognizant of what’s happening in your own home because it is building block number one.
Now that you’re thinking about it, I want you to pick a family member and text or call them today to tell them you appreciate what they’ve done for you and how you are better because of it.
The second spirit arrived soon after Scrooge was returned to his bed. The Ghost of Christmas Present whisked him away again to a common market place with a bustling crowd who were buying the ingredients for Christmas dinner. Then, across the way, the Ghost pulled him to a Christmas celebration in a lighthouse. Then, transported again, they visited his nephew Fred’s Christmas festivities. And finally, to Bob Cratchit’s family dinner. Scrooge noted Bob’s youngest son, Tim (‘Tiny’ Tim) who seemed happy though, to the best that Scrooge could tell, seriously ill. The Ghost tells Ebenezer that ‘Tiny’ Tim will die soon because of complications of the sickness.
This brings us to a second important point, the Me-My lifestyle keeps owners and managers from true greatness. I have had the pleasure of working for some of the kindest and most caring administrators. They were attuned to the needs of their employees. They did all they could to meet those needs whether that meant giving them time off when there was no more PTO or sending them a ‘Thank You’ card or calling them when they found out a family member was sick or hurting. Remember Ebenezzer Scrooge’s disdain for letting Bob have Christmas Day off? He did so because that was what was ‘Socially Acceptable’. We should go over and beyond, because investing in our employees is investing in our future. So, take time and look at the people who you serve as a direct supervisor for. Get them Holiday Cards of your choosing and write a personal note. Not just “Thanks” but a heartfelt note to let them know what they mean to you and to your company.
The final spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Future, would be the last to visit Mr. Scrooge that evening, and he would show Ebeneezer a single Christmas Day in the future. This Ghost was eerily silent. It revealed a funeral for a disliked man attended only by local businessmen who were solely there for the food. The possessions of the deceased man were stolen away to be sold. No one showed even an inkling of compassion for the dead. Seeking to find out where he would end up, Ebenezzer asked the Spirit to show him his future. Down the way, they saw Scrooge’s house, but the Ghost pointed elsewhere. To a graveyard near a church where Ebeneezer unwittingly approached a tombstone and found his own name written upon it.
Scrooge pledged in the end, “I will honour 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!” And so he did, and we should all follow his lead.
We should give up this ‘Me-My’ lifestyle. Strive to live less of the miser life that Ebeneezer lived at first. Live more of a gracious, compassionate life like the one he took up in the end. Because, in the end of the story, he changed the lives of Fred and his family. He transformed the life of Bob, ‘Tiny’ Tim and all of the Cratchits. Scrooge changed the lives of the meat salesman and the beggars he passed on Christmas Day. Ebenezer Scrooge embraced that ‘holiday spirit’ not just in December, but all throughout the year.
Hoping your Holiday Season is filled with love given to you and bestowed upon others from you. May you receive and give gifts in like kindness with a grateful heart. May it be a season filled with quality time for family and friends. From our staff at Custom Equipment Company to you and yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May 2021 be our best year yet! Remember, that what you are today directly impacts the person you will become. Let us be ‘people focused’, as we look forward to a brighter tomorrow!
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