A Christmas Carol and What Makes Life Worthwhile

I know it is a little early (ok, very early) for Christmas but thinking about Dickens’ classic, I realised that while A Christmas Carol is definitely about the Christmas spirit, joy, and togetherness, there is much it teaches us (beyond its Christmassy-ness) about what really makes life worth living all the time (and not at Christmas alone).

Ebenezer Scrooge is selfish and a miser and his old age (when he has all the money he could ever want) finds him lonely in a cold house (spurning even the one kind invitation from his nephew) with a bad temper—bringing only unhappiness to others, his servants only waiting to make off with what they can once he dies; and what a contrast to the Cratchits’ home. But luckily for him, that Christmas is magical and brings him the spirits of the past, present, and future which show him what he has become and what he will come to, and teach him the values of kindness, of the joy one gets from giving to others, and filling his life with warmth and happiness once again. But what it also shows us, besides of course kindness and doing things for others, is the value of family and friends and the people that love us and who we love—the value of spending time with them and of enjoying the time spent together.

And that is a lesson that is all the more relevant today when people seem to be caught up in their “high-powered” jobs and crazy schedules, where even entertainment and holidays are governed by their value on facebook and such, and lives seem to be lived more virtually than really. At the end of the day, none of that—the money, position, material possessions, or the online likes matter very much (certainly not as much as the value we seem to attach to them). What will matter in the end is whether we are in a warm home, with family and friends (and pets) we genuinely care for and who care for us, whether we are happy or instead have all the riches in the world but are sad and cold and lonely (even ill, perhaps if we worked ourselves too hard for riches that serve us too little) in our houses, not homes.

So even if one isn’t quite as bad as Scrooge, lives today are becoming somewhat comparable to his with most people caught in a senseless race for material possessions and one-upmanship. Our answer may not lie in eschewing all that is material but more simply (and somewhat like Scrooge after his transformation), in trying to make our lives about being happy and bringing some joy to others, making them truly worthwhile.

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