Being Ebenezer Scrooge

By Jerry Lambert

Hello, and welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club.  I know it’s been about 6 months since my last posting.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I am working at Global Discovery Vacations.  Despite a somewhat rocky start, I appear to be hitting my stride (I hope).  The world of sales is very odd, to say the least.  But, I am not writing about that today.

Last year, I posted an article called, Being George Bailey.  I think it was one of the better ones I have written.  You may want to go back and read it before continuing on with this post.  The two articles are joined at the hip, as it were, and reading the first will definitely give you an idea of where I am going with this one.

Anyway, as I usually do at this time of year, I like to read (or listen to) two books.  The first is Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.  The second is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  The first is a great story about what would happen if you decided to just forgo all the madness surrounding the Christmas Season and just, “Skip it”.

The movie, Christmas with the Kranks, stars Tim Allen (a proud Michigander and the voice of the Pure Michigan commercials), and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Given that her dad was Tony Curtis and her mom was Janet Leigh, I’m guessing she’s from California.  The movie is a hoot and I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

2fa9541865e49e2853c578a8f3fafe3eA Christmas Carol has had many movie adaptations.  I am partial to the musical Scrooge (1970), starring Albert Finney.  He was a major cranky pants in that version and did an excellent job of portraying the transformation Scrooge undergoes.  From a selfish, crusty curmudgeon, to a giving, charitable man who has found the true meaning of Christmas, and lives it every day.

Over the past few years, I have made a concerted effort to become more like the reborn Scrooge (or Scrooge 2.0 for my nerdy friends) and less like Mr. Cranky Pants.  I think we all need to make that effort, and NOT just at Christmastime.

It’s easy to be charitable and forgiving during the Christmas season.  But how about when it’s July, and some S.O.B. has just stolen your parking spot at Meijer.  Plus you are already late for your nephew’s birthday party!  Still feeling the love?

ghost_of_christmasI wanted to do a brief analysis of Scrooge and how he managed to make an “overnight transformation”.  For most of us, this sort of transformation can take years, if we have the persistence to keep at it.  There are several moments that happen in the story that are crucial to the transformation of Scrooge’s character.

The Caroler / Lonely at School: We see the first chink in Scrooge’s armor when he shows remorse for threatening a young caroler with physical harm.  This occurs when he sees his younger self, left alone at school over the Christmas holidays.  He even goes so far to say, “I should like to have given him something; that’s all.”  This is a major admission for Scrooge.  To part with money voluntarily is like cutting off a limb for Scrooge!

Little Fan / Fred’s Visit: During this same trip down memory lane, Scrooge sees his younger sister, Fan, come to rescue him from the school.  The Spirit of Christmas Past comments that she had children.  Scrooge points out that she had one child, his nephew Fred, who he treats with contempt every year when he comes by to invite him to Christmas Dinner.  This realization hits Scrooge hard, because he realizes by berating Fred, he is treating his deceased little sister’s only child horribly.

hqdefaultFear of Being Poor / Fiancée Dumping Him: We see Scrooge falling in love, only to see his love for the unnamed fiancée become replaced by his drive for money.  Apparently at all cost.  He convinces himself he is doing it for both of them, but eventually, she falls away and he becomes consumed by greed.  When she drops her engagement ring on the scale, she tells him that she weighs very little compared to his pursuit of wealth.  This brings a tear to the eye of Old Scrooge and he begs the Spirit of Christmas Past to take him away.

f9e419c897388ea04c2a5ac65856022cTreatment of Bob / Tiny Tim: We see early on how Scrooge mistreats Bob Cratchit as well.  It’s not until the Spirit of Christmas Present shows Scrooge Bob’s family, specifically Tiny Tim, that it occurs to Scrooge that Bob just might be due for a raise.  Scrooge’s concern over the welfare of Tiny Tim shows further cracks in the wall he has put up between himself and society.

980xChristmas Future / Fear of Hell: Scrooge’s final visitor, the Spirit of Christmas Future, shows him that not only will he not be missed, but many people may actually celebrate his death.  The scene in Scrooge the Musical illustrates this with a rousing dance number and the song, “Thank You Very Much!”  A classic.  His trip to the graveyard and seeing “Ebenezer Scrooge” on the tombstone shakes him up.  Plus, remembering what Marley said about the chains Scrooge himself carried, makes him terrified of going to Hell.  The thought of lugging those chains around for eternity is too much for him to bear.

musicalscrooge04Being able to view these past events from a third person perspective really allows Scrooge to see where his life went off the rails.  If asked on Christmas Eve before the visitation by Jacob Marley, he would have considered himself a successful and prosperous businessman.  On Christmas Day, he awakens realizing what a selfish fool he’s been, and is determined to take a different path.

So at this time of year, but really all year, let’s endeavor to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.  That jerk who cut you off may have just been fired from a job of 25 years (like someone else I know).  Or, there may be a sick child at home who is occupying all of his attention.

I know your first reaction is flip him the bird and string together some colorful adjectives about what you would like to see happen to him, but please keep in mind what he may be going through.  Or, maybe he’s just a jerk.  Either way, don’t let it steal your Christmas Spirit, if you’re lucky enough to have captured it!  Please keep in mind that the type of transformation Scrooge went through rarely happens overnight.  It may take many years of hard work before your transformation takes place.  However, I’m sure it will be worth it.  Still working on mine!

1970_ Albert Finney_ScroogeI won’t be so cheesy to quote Tiny Tim’s famous last line.  However, I will quote a line from the story that has always stuck with me.  “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the old city ever knew.”  This Christmas, as well as every day, let that be your guide and you will truly be embracing the Christmas Spirit (all three of them as a matter of fact) every day of the year.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

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Giving Tuesday

Don’t Forget To Give!

By Jerry Lambert

Welcome back to The Brown Parachute Club and to the Holiday Season!  By this time, you should be preparing for Christmas and had all the turkey you can handle (no, I’m not talking about Cousin Eddie) .

Black boy putting money into donations jarThis year, I learned about a new charity event.  Have you ever heard of Giving Tuesday (#givingtuesday)?  I put the title all as one word, with the hashtag for a reason.  This is a campaign that was started by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y(MCA) in New York.  They use Social Media Influencers to spread the word and encourage giving at this time of year.

Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday each year.  I would have scheduled it the day before Thanksgiving and called it Giving Wednesday.  After blowing your bankroll on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot left over for Giving Tuesday.

However, it is a reminder to take care of your charitable giving early.  Before the “Christmas Steamroller” plows through December and you wind up in January with a mountain of bills, wondering what just happened!

Since Giving Tuesday is a Social Media-based event, it gives me hope for the younger generation of this country.  The Selfie-Generation seems so self-obsessed, it is encouraging that a campaign like Giving Tuesday has caught fire.  It is promising that this age group can count their blessings and consider giving to others, who are genuinely in need of their help!

BLM028702During this extremely busy time of year, it is difficult to sit down and figure out which charity deserves your donation.  The hassle of trying to figure out who should receive your hard-earned money can become more of a chore than a blessing.  Also, how do you know which charity you can trust?  How do you make sure the money you donate is finding its way to the people or animals who really need it?

Unfortunately, there are many charities who make a living off the generous nature of its donors.  Check out this article that details The 20 Best Charities in America: 2010.  You may not be familiar with many of these charities, but they have the lowest overhead of any charities reviewed in 2010.  That means that virtually every dollar donated goes directly to the people or animals that need it the most.

Here is another chart that details some of the best vs the worst charities.  There are a lot of terrific military charities listed.  So if you want to give to our Heroes, here is a great way!

As far as animal charities go, I have always found it is best to stay local.  I avoid the national money-grubbing charities that tug at our heartstrings, with commercials of neglected and abused animals.  Petfinder has a great way to find a local shelter in your area that can use your donation of money (and time).

Portrait of a pit bull mixI know what you’re thinking.  “I would love to give to charity, but I don’t have two pennies to rub together.  I am barely making ends meet as it is.”  I know it’s a lot to ask.  However, since I have started donating 10% of my income to a different charity each week, I have found a string of blessings have been coming my way.  I can only account for these blessings by my charitable giving.  It’s like “Indiana Jones and the Leap of Faith” I mentioned in my last article about Goals.  Sometimes, you just have to take that first step and see what happens!

I hope you decide to donate to a charity of your choice this Christmas Season.  Just remember, no matter how bad things are for you right now, there is always someone else who is worse off.

If you like what you’re reading on TBPC, please leave a comment and share the website with your friends.  Also, if you would like to be notified of new posts to this blog, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner.  Until next week, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!