I re-read A Christmas Carol on the flight home from Utah on Monday. By the time I got to the final chapter, I wasn't on the plane anymore. Rather, I was in a land all my own, sitting in a bedroom created by Charles Dickens, over a hundred years ago. The first (and last) few sentences in the last chapter say it all. (Italics added for emphasis)
The End of It
Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the time before him was his own, to make amends in!
``I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!'' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. ``The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!''
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
``They are not torn down,'' cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, ``they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here: I am here: the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will!''
His hands were busy with his garments all this time: turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.
``I don't know what to do!'' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. ``I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!'
Anyone who knows the story knows that after Scrooge got dressed, he went outside and asked a boy what day it was. ("Today? Why, Christmas Day!") And then he sent for the biggest turkey in the shop and had it sent to Bob Cratchit's, and he met with a gentleman collecting for charity and gave a huge donation ("including a great many back payments"), and then he set out for his nephew's house for Christmas dinner. The next day, when Cratchit got to work, Scrooge sat him down and told him that he needed to make amends, that he was going to give Bob a raise and help him with his struggling family.
Scrooge was a changed man.
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; 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!
May we all be better than our words, have laughing hearts, and know how to keep Christmas well. Not just today, but every day.