Keeping Christmas All The Year
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
Written more than 150 years ago, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol remains one of the most popular pieces of classic literature. Portrayed by George C. Scott, Jim Carrey, Alastair Sim and even Scrooge McDuck, Ebenezer Scrooge reveals themes that reside within and connect with all of us. Audiences tune in every December to watch Scrooge’s heart turn from cold, hermitic and resolute to warm, generous and loving.
Why do we read or watch Scrooge’s transformation year after year? Because often after 11 months of daily grind, stress, challenges and time crunches, we find ourselves hardened and in desperate need of Christmas spirit to soften our souls once again. So how can we be more intentional throughout the year to “honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year”? How can we teach our children that warmth, generosity and love are for all seasons?
- Be intentional. As you reflect on this year’s holiday cheer, talk to your family about ways you gave back. Brainstorm how you can continue your generosity throughout the year and make a plan on the calendar. Set a monthly date to volunteer at a non-profit or donate to a food pantry. Collect your loose change in a family donation jar then vote quarterly which charity will receive your contribution.
- See the needs around you. Scrooge stares shocked and repulsed looking into the ghost’s robe hiding Ignorance and Want. He spent his life ignoring those in need around him. When we take the time to notice and care about those in our life, our neighborhood, our school, our office or our community, we can more clearly see tangible ways to reach out and help. Throughout the year, listen to the voice inside telling you to provide financial support, write an encouraging note, cook a meal, give a ride or lend a listening ear. Don’t ignore the tiny voice and encourage your children to listen to theirs.
- Model kindness. Despite a difficult childhood in a boarding school with little parental involvement, Scrooge knew immediately how to be benevolent once his heart possessed the will. He knew this because of the people like Bob Cratchit and Nephew Fred who spent years bestowing kindness in spite of his cold spirit. People, specifically children, learn behavior by those around them – modeling kindness or cruelty. By investing the time to model and teach our children compassion, they start life with a perspective that Scrooge wasted years ignoring.
- Judge less. Scrooge was a master at justifying his miserly ways. All other people were frivolous idiots wasting time and energy on non-productive nonsense. He never thought or cared what circumstances put people in the prisons or workhouses – he felt those institutions were an ample safety net. Once Scrooge saw another perspective in Tiny Tim and that he was one who Scrooge’s indifference would allow to die and “decrease the surplus population”, Scrooge’s heart took a dramatic shift. He began to see people as whole, complex and worthy of kindness. It is easy to assume you know someone’s entire story or what circumstances put him/her in need, therefore dismissing the needs entirely. Judgment and shame rarely entice positive change and, in our experience, often weigh the heaviest on the situation’s innocent children who are already hurting. Care more and judge less.
Before you put the tree away and sip the last of your eggnog, we hope you will remember to leave a bit of the holiday season unpacked. Like Scrooge, we hope this year you become “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a [person], as the good old city knows.”
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Ray of Hope.