ScroogeAfter putting a few days aside for some rest, I sit at my home on Orcas, WA watching ‘Scrooge.’ While it’s true that I watch this film every year, I seem to never tire of the message: Ebenezer Scrooge learns in the nick of time to stop hoarding and spread good cheer. Seems so simple enough.

Yet as I poke around the world, is there really an adequate supply of ‘good cheer?’ Look around, examples are profound. Military families have lost a loved one. Many have lost homes to vast array of floods, earthquakes, tornados, oil spills, hurricanes, fires, loss of employment, loss of healthcare, crime and a host of other issues.  The deprived and homeless are in every city and every town. Yet I sit and watch Scrooge and say “Yes!” to the spirits of Christmas.

Scrooge seems so nice and easy. Great film, great music, and less than a couple of hours. In my own Christmas’ of the past, I wondered if I simply dropped a couple bucks into Salvation Army donation, does that account for spreading the message of goodwill.  Or could I do more?

Regardless of whether I donate a dollar or ten-thousand, the poorest of America’s poor, while generally wealthier than 75 percent of the world’s population, are trying to live by the most minimum of accepted living standards just to simply exist. No matter how many blankets or cots I could give, there will still be about seven hundred fifty thousand homeless Americans, many who have neither a stable, inn or tent on which to lie. Unless many un-Scrooge ourselves, chances are their Christmas will be just like any other day on the cold and cruel streets. There will be 1.8 million who will spend Christmas in prison. That means about 500,000 children without at one parent. Many will not receive even a card from family or friends, much less a gift.

As I look out over the ocean from my small home, I can see majestic trees standing guard. My breath steams the window in musical beat. Looking upon the moon’s reflection, I ask, “What is the real message of Christmas? Gosh, I once again ask, “What is Christmas’ real message?”

To me I’ve spent so many Christmas’ alone, I no longer recognize the privilege of company. I find it hard to reach deep and find the spiritual richness my former love gave bestowed.

However, in the end Scrooge learns Christmas is about giving, sacrifice and worshipping. Christmas extends a message of good will to others, a selfless concern for others. Loving-kindness is often illustrated by the following image: just as a mother loves her child, so we too should develop this kind of love for all beings, without exception. Secondly, Scrooge also recognizes that in the midst of his own happiness and material well-being, that there are others who are unhappy and who are suffering in all sorts of different ways.

Marley’s message is simple, “The deeds that men do follow them.” I can personally attest to that. No matter where I go, I am alone.

But be like the redemptive Scrooge.

In redemption, Scrooge asks the child what day and shows how greatly he’s been changed. By asking the child, he validates the knowledge of a child and gives the child authority. Christmas has always been placed in the hands of a child, a person who by society’s standards (and the old Scrooge’s) may be dependent and powerless, but who by Scrooge’s new understanding of human value (love, charity, community), is a person of great importance.

This holiday season, remember to be important. Give what you can … to all mankind.