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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4 thoughts on “A Christmas Carol and What Makes Life Worthwhile

  1. Very true. What really concerns me though is the fact that Scrooge was the one fly in the ointment of Christmas cheer during Dicken’s day, but the times we live in see an explosion of Scrooges, not stingy with money, but stingy with joy and good cheer. Somehow celebration today is more about noisy outbursts and impressive displays, rather than deep down contentment and goodwill.

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    1. True- not just celebration but life itself has become about impressing people and displaying one’s possession and position which brings nothing positive to the one who is seeking to create it (since they can never be content) nor to them in whom envy is sought to be created (unless they can rise above it).

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  2. My Dearest Mallika,

    What a thoughtful reflection!

    Your reference to Facebook in your blog is also apt. Facebook is such a “pseudo” medium to assure ourselves that we’re connected with each other. Actually, it’s become more of a medium to “showcase” than to “connect”.

    Of course, the focus of your blog is not about Facebook and how it has implicated relationships or the way we socialize in the present-day world.

    You’re thrusting on the importance of day-to-day interpersonal behavior and relationships. You’ve cautioned us about the potential risk of alienating ourselves from others when we stop being happy, kind and grateful.

    It’s time we forge “real” connections by reaching out to each other, valuing each other, loving each other, taking out time for each other. Let’s not wait for Christmas to live these simple joys. And please, let’s not allow Facebook to fool us in believing how closely knitted and well-connected we are.
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    1. Thanks for reading Madhavi 🙂

      You’re right about Facebook (though I am a very guilty user myself)- but we seem to live pretty much parallel lives on it which have much to do with “showing” how much “fun” our lives are but ultimately have precious little to do with our actual lives. And in trying to impress in these “pseudo” lives, one is no longer enjoying what is real since one is too busy photographing it instead of enjoying it.

      Then there is in our real lives this race for popular notions of success which means one is again focusing on the material and on ostentation rather than on happiness or health or family which are what really matter in life.

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