A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been brought to stage and screen many times. My favourite version saw Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge with Bob Cratchett portrayed by Kermit the Frog. The famous tale has special memories for me. In my primary school play when I was 11 I was cast as both Stage Manager and Chief Understudy. On the day a few folk were absent so it became the only performance of Christmas Carol in history where the same person played both Scrooge AND Tiny Tim! Here is one of my favourite scenes:
“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!”
“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.”
“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”
Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”
“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the nephew.
“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)
Scrooge was refreshingly honest! What’s the point of people making merry when they really don’t know what they are celebrating? If we forget what Christmas is really about – it is all just, Bah – Humbug!
My friend Paul used to host wonderful Christmas parties. Every year he would build his own bigger better Hi Fi and every year it would blow up half way through and the disco would continue from a portable cassette player. He builds nuclear power stations for a living now but that’s another story. At one of Paul’s parties I found myself chatting to two young ladies I had never met before.
“How do you know Paul?”
I pointed them to the 6 foot banner, “Happy 21st Birthday Paul!” up on the wall. These two girls were there for the food and drink and dancing and to meet the boys. They didn’t know who Paul was. They didn’t care who Paul was! That is a picture of Christmas for very many people. Enjoying the party – but ignoring the person we are celebrating! Bah – Humbug!
The angel announced to the shepherds the real meaning of Christmas.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8 10-11)
Christmas really is a birthday party, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. THAT is the good news of great joy for people everywhere! That is what we have to be happy about!
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
There wouldn’t be a Christmas without Christ! Jesus is the reason for the season. So we wish everybody a very happy and peaceful Christmas – but let’s make sure we remember whose birthday we are celebrating!