Monday, December 9, 2013

A Christmas Carol

I love Christmas. This time of year is my favorite for a variety of reasons. So I decided to celebrate by reading some books that I associate with the holidays. Next up, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

The story has been told many times, and with many variations, but it always seems to resonate. I think we all like a story about second chances and redemption. I think we especially like it at Christmas time- the time of year that seems to be devoted to forgiveness and seeing the best in those around you.

This isn't the easiest book to read. That's not because of the subject matter, simply the fact that it's Dickens. Anyone who's read one of his other works knows how the language can get a bit cumbersome. However, it's worth the added work to read the original.

I think it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the commercial side of the holidays. Especially when stores open on Thanksgiving. Seriously, I hope no one reading this supported that by actually going. It was a pretty disgusting display of the drive to have the best at any cost and only think about the money side of things. I decided not to go to any of those stores for anything this holiday season. I might even go so far as to stop shopping there completely.

Even though I hated the idea, I'm sure Scrooge would have been completely supportive of it. He probably would have been one of the first on board to open early. But, we see that change. He's lost sight of the human aspects of not only the holidays, but of life in general. It's those relationships, those connections that really make us human and let us live the full range of experiences that it has to offer. Sure those are the same things that make life occasionally frustrating or hurtful, but the good parts are worth it.

That's the biggest thing that I take away from this story- not to forget about the good things that life has to offer. Getting caught up in the negative makes it so that you're only able to focus on those things. After a while that becomes all you see and all you look for, and so many wonderful things go unnoticed. Taking a step back and adjusting your focus makes it possible to see the good again. That's what Scrooge discovers, or rediscovers depending upon how you want to look at it.

It's possible to find the good in the bad, and it's possible to share that good with other people. That's the other thing that I think the story highlights. Having things is only a benefit when you can share them with those who don't have them. There are a lot of ways to do that. You can donate your money or your time, and there are so many great organizations that need the help. It's especially easy to do this time of year, but they need help all the time. We've decided to give to the humane society where we adopted our dogs. It's a charity that I feel very close to, so it was an easy choice for us. My hope is that this story somehow inspires you to do more and to give more this year and next.

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