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)
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.
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
because you used the word "Christmas" - and not only used it, you used it in the
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
have a hard time defining exactly what "Holiday" it is that they're cashing in on.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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'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,
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
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,
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
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