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Apologies to Charles Dickens
Rewriting "A Christmas Carol"

"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. "Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"  He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.

"Christmas a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew. "You don't mean that, I am sure."  "I do," said Scrooge. "Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough." (Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" 1843)

Well, Charles, it's a darn good thing you didn't try writing this story in 2009. You'd be "boiled in your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart" for writing the words "Merry Christmas" or, I guess, even thinking them.

This year, even in the little town where I live, one would be hard-pressed to find any evidence that Christmas is near. They've hidden the manger scene and forgotten to put up the Christmas lights. They don't dare, not anymore; not these days. Last year they had a "Holiday Lighting" ceremony downtown. But even the words "Holiday Lighting" smacked too much of Christmas I guess, because this year we don't even have "Holiday" lights - at least none that I can see.

Bah! Humbug!

Yes, Charles, the world has changed since you walked among us. Now, I bet, as a ghost of Christmas Past, you must be shaking your head at what we've done to Christmas. It's nothing like your world. These days your beautifully-written story of hope, forgiveness, forbearance, and good will toward all mankind, would be ridiculed and derided by critics who are too afraid to offend the few, whose rights have somehow become more important than the rights of the many. And, why would they attack your story, Charles? Not because of any literary faux pas, no indeed,  but because you used the word "Christmas" - and not only used it, you used it in the title!

Bah! Humbug!

We now live in a world where one is afraid to say "Merry Christmas" for fear we might offend an atheist or someone who is not a Christian. This has placed retailers in a tenuous position. These retailers dearly love to exploit the Christmas shopping season; but they are in a quandary about what to call it. Many dare not call it Christmas. Many times, when we walk into a store decorated for Christmas, we have a difficult time trying to find anything in the store with the word "Christmas" on it (except for maybe a sign on the front that says "Closed Christmas Day" - hmm why doesn't it say "Closed on a certain Holiday" or "Closed December 25th"?)

In 2005, we have "Holiday" trees, "Holiday" lights, "Holiday" candy, "Holiday" decorations, "Holiday" cookies, but no Christmas anything; anywhere. But, stores refusing to use the word   Christmas (and forbidding their employees to say "Merry Christmas") does not stop them from cashing in on Christmas. It's a very good thing for those stores that Hanukkah and Kwanzaa happen to occur in December or they would have a hard time defining exactly what "Holiday" it is that they're cashing in on.

Bah! Humbug!

Charles? I don't blame you for rolling your eyes at our world today!

And, Charles? Would you believe that we have children in our schools that sing "We Wish You A Happy Holiday" and "I'm Dreaming of White Xmas"? Or schools that perform plays called "A Holiday Carol" (all references to Christmas removed, of course but based, of course, on your story)? Children now recite poems like "It was the night before Xmas and all through the house". I don't blame you blame you for looking askance at my world, Charles. I even hate to admit that what is happening to Christmas is partly my fault. After all, I'm part of the generation that let this happen.

Bah! Humbug!

When my kids were in school (and it wasn't all that long ago) we went to "Christmas Plays" and we had "Christmas Parties'. Kids got out of school for "Christmas Vacation" and we actually called Holiday Trees "Christmas Trees". Yes, even those who sold them called them "Christmas Trees". We even ate Christmas cookies and sang Christmas carols - and Christmas was Christmas. 

But, these days, kids go on "Winter Break" and the schools put on Holiday Plays. Elementary children have "holiday parties" and eat holiday cookies and sing holiday songs like "Jingle Bells", "Frosty the Snowman" and other songs in which the word Christmas can be easily removed or replaced with a less "offensive" word.

 Bah! Humbug!

And to think Charles, I've let this happen! Everyone who holds Christmas and its traditions dear, and yet has allowed the tiny minority to make us all ashamed to say "Merry Christmas!" has allowed this to happen. But, it really has been a long time coming. We all should have seen it coming two or three decades ago when the colleges started calling Christmas vacation "Winter Break". We should have known what was coming. But, really, Charles, I didn't think it would ever get this bad.

Bah! Humbug!

Let's face it, Charles: Not everyone in this world are Christians. But, what is wrong all of us, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, aspiring to the Spirit of Christmas and its love and its traditions? And far too many, these days, who do say Christmas, spell it Chri$tma$. And to me they're just as bad, or worse, than those who won't say Christmas at all or those who try to keep anyone else from saying "Christmas".

Bah! Humbug!

Christmas, as you know, Charles, is not about gifts, or buying things, or rushing about the malls in a panic. It is a time of year that all of us who call ourselves Christians, should stop and remember why it is we celebrate Christmas. It is a time to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus and a time families and friends to gather together in the love and in the true Spirit of Christmas.

" 'Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!' "(Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" 1843)

Charles, your ageless and poignant story of Christmas certainly embodied the true Spirit of Christmas. Maybe those who call for the end of "Merry Christmas would benefit by reading your story. I wish they would read it. The world might just be a little better place. In fact, Charles, everyone would benefit from reading your story. And, guess what, Charles? You don't even have to buy it these days! Did you know that you can read the whole story on the Web. "What's the Web?" you ask? Charles, it would take me too long to explain. I think you'd really like it though - most of it anyway!

It's funny that we don't have any problem with President's Day, a national holiday, where we honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. And it's a proven fact that regardless what you believe; Jesus was a well-documented historical figure. But those of us who want to celebrate his birth on the 25th of each December are not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" in celebration of his birth? Can you believe what we've done to Christmas, Charles?

And what about St. Patrick's Day. I don't recall anyone ever getting upset over stores having St. Patrick's Day sales or someone putting up shamrocks in their windows. Or advertising "St. Patrick's Day" parties. St. Patrick is a Christian saint, is he not? Maybe those who don't like Christmas, but don't mind St. Patrick's Day, are green-beer-drinking party animals? Ya think, Charles?

And, I don't know if these people were around in your day, Charles, but there are those "intellectuals" who will tell you that Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of each December because at one time it was a pagan holiday which occurred near the winter solstice each year. They claim "Christmas" therefore is a pagan holiday. Really! I am serious! Don't laugh Charles. They claim that Jesus was actually born in September, whatever difference that makes. That we've chosen the 25th of December as the day we celebrate his birth and that we call this day "Christmas" is enough for me. Jesus should be allowed to have a birthday too!

So, now we're not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore lest we offend someone who doesn't believe as we do? I don't understand that, do you, Charles? If a person of the Jewish faith said "Happy Hanukkah" to me, I would say "Happy Hanukkah" back and not think a thing of it! If a person of the Muslim faith wants to celebrate one of their holidays, that's fine with me. And the same is true of any religion.

You know, if I lived in a town where the majority were Jewish, it would not offend me at all if the town erected Hanukkah displays in the town square.

I believe that every person has the right to believe as they wish; but no one has the right to ask me not to say "Merry Christmas" or not to believe as I do. I am just not going to let anyone ruin my Christmas Spirit this year Charles!

What kinds of people are offended by the term "Merry Christmas" anyway? I'm not trying to convert anyone. I'm certainly not wishing anyone ill-will. I'm celebrating a happy time and I'm celebrating the birth of Jesus. And, It's hard for me to believe, that a virtual handful of people could cause an entire country to go into spiritual hiding. But they have. When will stores and cities and towns realize that there is nothing wrong with saying "Merry Christmas"? When will they recognize that using the words "Holidays" and "Xmas" aren't fooling anyone. Everyone knows what time of year it is. It's Christmastime.

There is nothing wrong with saying "Christmas" or wishing someone a Merry Christmas. If anyone is offended by good wishes and good tidings then they are the ones with the problem, right Charles? And looking at this whole mess, again I am reminded that we have only ourselves to blame for this situation. We all sat back and let them them take Christmas away and replace it with "Holiday" and "Xmas" and "Season".

We are all to blame for what has happened to Christmas. Now we find ourselves struggling to keep Christmas alive; fighting to keep the eternal Torch of Christmas burning in spite of the many brothers and sisters of Ebenezer Scrooge who would darken it forever.

"What else can I be," returned the uncle, "when I live in such a world of fools as this?  Merry Christmas!  Out upon merry Christmas!  What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you?  If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.  He should!" (Charles Dickens, "A Christmas Carol" 1843)

I think it's high-time we took our Christmas back, Charles!

As Tiny Tim once observed, "God bless Us, Every One! "


This year we hope that each of you finds the true Spirit of Christmas. And that you remember always the real reason for Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
 

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