The Scrooge Before Christmas
Crying Out for Breath Amidst the Tinsel
by Alan Harris
ES, THERE IS A SCROOGE. He haunts the hearts of those who wish
that Santa's $10.00 white beard were real--who wish that his "Ho,
ho, ho" meant more than the $6.00 an hour he is paid to utter
it. Scrooge-inhabited people desperately long for a "Ho,
ho, ho" from deep within a genuine person's heart.
We seem to want people, all people, to be genuine, yet most people
have personality owies that deflect them away from thoroughly
genuine behavior. Christmas would ideally be a time when all of
those owies would get better, but through some quirk of human
nature, they usually get worse. The showy get showier, the stingy
get stingier, the drinking get drunker, the overeating get overweighter,
and the busy get busier.
Considering the above, "Christmas" would seem a mockery
when we consider that two-thirds of the word is "Christ".
Perhaps those of Scroogish persuasion would prefer to spell it
Scroogish people are not the only ones who clamor for change.
Certain religious types are annually haranguing each other about
the True Meaning of Christmas. These frustrated (and sometimes
ultraholy) people don't usually identify at all with Scrooge,
but they, too, hate the tinsel, the tawdriness, and (other people's)
hypocrisy. They want everyone to concentrate on the Christ child,
the angels, the star, and other symbols which provided comfortable
myths and icons to live by during their childhood. They tend to
cling to these warm, fuzzy concepts the more tightly as they find
themselves struggling with the bottomless mysteries of relationships,
emotions, illnesses, and the Big Unmentionable. These bewildered
adults cry out for something more stable, something safer, something
holier, and something that makes sense when life doesn't.
Scroogeness could be defined as a thin layer of rage masking a
desperate search for sincerity beneath. The Scrooge in our hearts
knows the difference between the Jesus and the junk. Scrooge is
the skeptic who dares to call tinsel tinsel, the seemingly cruel
man who eschews sentimentality. Scrooge dares to drill down deeper
than the reindeer manure, down into his past hurts and heartaches,
down to the deepest gnarled roots that tap into his tortured soul.
No, he does not like Christmas, nor does he especially like himself,
but in digging deeply, he discovers a little child in there who
can scarcely breathe. He sees that the "Bah" in "Bah,
humbug" has all along been a crying out for breath and life
and truth and goodness. Humbug has been smothering this little
child for most of its life.
Long live the Scrooge within us, for deep within this Scrooge
is the holy child who began life in a stable full of smelly stuff,
and in whose innocent heart shimmers a true light which will dissolve
the false lights and shams.
The Christ, then, may be said to inhabit Scrooge and you and me.
Even though our whole land be filled with tinsel, Scrooge and
you and I may discover that tinsel is an improvement over the
smelly stuff in the stable. And through this child's eyes we may even
see a light which we might call, for lack of a better word, a