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!

Disclaimer: Advertisements that appear on this website are posted by WordPress and not by the author of this website.

Advertisements

Being George Bailey

Remembering What’s Important At This Time Of Year

By Jerry Lambert

(This is an article I wrote last year on another blog.  I thought it was appropriate to repost it.  I hope you enjoy it!)

its-a-wonderful-life-010

While walking my crazy dog Skittles this morning, I was struck by the character of George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  As I’m sure you know, the character of George Bailey was played by the master of understatement, Jimmy Stewart.  What I thought about this morning was that George Bailey was a man who always did the selfless, generous thing, and he resented it.

George throws a couple of “Fits” during the movie.  The first one is when he confronts his bride-to-be, Mary.  He loves her, but realizes that life with her will be the end of many of his goals and dreams.  This conflict within him results in a rather rough treatment of Mary before he finally breaks down and confesses his love for her.

George’s initial bad attitude that evening stems from the fact that his brother Harry, who George was counting on to take over the Bailey Brothers Building & Loan, has come home from college with a wife, and a job.  That, in addition to an embarrassing conversation with Violet Bick, has gotten him into a foul mood before he stops by to see Mary.

George gives up his dreams for others’ benefit.  While this results in George wedding Mary and living an exemplary life, it also increases George’s frustration that he was meant for “Bigger Things”.  Mr. Potter catches George in a weak moment and offers him a job as his “Right Hand Man”.  George considers the idea for a minute, thinking about the money, travel, and fantastic lifestyle that he and Mary would have if he was working for Potter.  Then reality hits him and he realizes that “his ship would come in” but everyone else in Bedford Falls, who depend on him, would be destroyed by Potter.  This results in George calling Potter a “Scurvy Spider” as he storms out of his office.

As the years go by, George becomes resigned to the fact that he will never see his big dreams come true.  He is happy that God has blessed him with a beautiful wife, and 4 beautiful children.  He isn’t happy with his job at the Building & Loan, but he realizes how important it is to the citizens of Bedford Falls.

Everything comes to a head when Uncle Billy accidentally gives Potter $8,000 that was meant for a bank deposit.  Uncle Billy and George retrace his steps, but to no avail.  Even though Uncle Billy was the one who lost the money, George is facing prison, because he is the Executive Secretary of the Building & Loan.  He could have tried to throw Uncle Billy under the bus, but he wouldn’t do it.  Instead, after hearing Potter say, “You’re worth more dead than alive!”  George loses it when he gets home from work.  He yells at Mary and the kids and storms out of the house.  Then, George is standing on the bridge contemplating suicide.  Why was this happening to him?  Hasn’t he been selfless and generous his whole life?  This is his reward?  Realizing the economic and social catastrophe he was about to inflict on his family, George utters the immortal words, “I wish I’d never been born!”

It is only after this statement, that George sees the positive impact that he has made on the lives of his family and friends.  This realization hits home as the whole town shows up to rescue him and Uncle Billy from financial ruin and jail.  Up until the moment when George has this epiphany, he still has a massive chip on his shoulder.  “Why me, God?  I’ve lived a good life, put others needs before my own, why am I being tortured like this?”  What George had never realized was that God had a different plan for his life.  If he embraced that plan, instead of fighting it his whole life, he would have been a whole lot happier.

I guess for me, what it all comes down to is that George was doing the right thing by living a generous, selfless life, but he was resentful of the life that he could have had.  Living your life by putting others needs before your own isn’t just a noble pursuit, it is the key to happiness in your own life.  This article is entitled, “Being George Bailey”.  Not the George Bailey who feels cheated by life, but the George Bailey who realizes that by putting others needs first, he truly has had “A Wonderful Life”.

This Christmas Season, I resolve to be more like George Bailey.  How about you?  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

[I am taking off a couple of weeks for the Holidays.  My next post will be Monday, January 9.]

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!