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Sugar House Journal

Life and Laughter – A Dickens of a holiday

Dec 09, 2020 19h08 ● By Peri Kinder

By Peri Kinder

Like Mariah Carey, Christmas seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. You have some folks gathering presents, food, and cash for those down on their luck, and then you have people on video surveillance stuffing jars of sweet pickles down their pants at the grocery store.

Christmas is descending like a firebomb on families this year who have been sick, laid off or evicted. Rubbing Mediterranean Sea salt flakes into that wound, Hallmark Christmas movies are back.

Hallmark Christmas movies should come with an eye-roll rating. Two eye-rolls means a small-town doctor falls in love with a handsome (yet grumpy) big-city lawyer. Three eye-rolls means a sick puppy was healed through a Christmas miracle involving an enchanted snow globe, a Nebraska blizzard and Angela Lansbury.

Not my cup of tea.

Give me “A Christmas Carol” any day.

With his black-and-white characters and punch-you-in-the-face symbolism, fans of Charles Dickens know his stories are never subtle. But you have to love a Christmas story that starts, “Marley was dead, to begin with.”

The story is about Ebenezer Scrooge and the Christmas Eve where he’s visited by spirits all night. (If I’m going to be visited by three Christmas spirits, they’d better be white wine, tequila, and Champagne. Not egg nog. That’s the stuff of Christmas demons.)

Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley, is a spirit that first shows up as a brass doorknocker (like ya do) and visits Scrooge to give him a heads-up that ghosts will be stopping by to chat. Marley is awesome. I mean, who doesn’t want to be followed around by a dead business partner who’s wrapped in the ghostly chains of his unkind existence?

Scrooge “Bah humbugs” his way through that discussion before he jumps into his distinctly creepy four-poster bed.

Soon, the Ghost of Christmas Past floats into the room, with its face shining like LED headlights. It shows the Christmas memories that shaped Scrooge through joy and heartbreak, until his soul bent like a candy cane, starting his transition to the irritable Scrooge he is now. Ebenezer is all, “Cool, cool. Can I go back to bed now?”

Then the Ghost of Christmas Present shows up (looking a lot like Jeff Bridges in “The Big Lebowski”) and shows Scrooge what his acquaintances think of him. Sort of like a Victorian version of Twitter.

Scrooge sees the people who think he’s a greedy, grumpy old man (everyone) and although Mr. Christmas Present Ghost is a jolly guy, he opens his robe to show Scrooge two emaciated children, representing Ignorance and Want. (Trump tried to deport them last Christmas.)

Scrooge is apprehensive as he waits for the final spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Future. This is my favorite part of the story. The somber, black specter appears to Scrooge and makes the hair on my knuckles stand up. I love how the spirit only communicates through pointing, like a passive-aggressive teenager.

Scrooge sees his dead body, his headstone, and the callous lack of sympathy from those around him. He wakes up a new man, changed into the world’s happiest old geezer, and buys a big turkey that some poor woman must prepare for dinner.

“A Christmas Carol” is a story of transformation that reminds us we’re all here to help each other. With the difficulties we’ve had this year, including Hallmark Christmas movies and Mariah Carey, it’s a good message to remember.