I have a confession to make.
I have always loved the storyline of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have vivid memories of taking a school field trip to the theater and seeing a wonderful adaptation of it right here in Indianapolis. It was one of my first real plays and I loved every minute of it! I’ve seen a few different movie versions and affectionately call my husband a Scrooge this time of year BUT, I hadn’t ever actually *read* the story.
Until last year!
The week of Christmas, I was looking for something festive to read and found myself reaching for this story. Before actually reading A Christmas Carol, I had picked up on some of its themes, but it wasn’t until reading it that I really noticed the theme of relationships.
When Scrooge traveled with the Ghost of Christmas Past, his calloused exterior immediately melted away when he was brought to scenes of his younger self with other people he’d loved throughout his life. Whether it was his friends from boyhood, his dear sister, old Fezziwig and his comrade Dick Wilkins, or his lover Belle, the formerly grim and miserable Scrooge became giddy and misty upon the sight of these people. Scrooge had forgotten the joy that loving others had brought him all those years ago.
Of course, Scrooge also endured heartache while with this first ghost. From being left alone in the schoolhouse while his friends went home for the holiday, or seeing Belle break his heart after he’d abandoned hers for his love of money, Scrooge was grieved to see the pain others had caused him. It is true, relationships can be the source of our highest highs and our lowest lows, but what Scrooge began to see that night was that it was worth it; relationships are worth the work, sacrifice, and even potential heartbreak.
The second ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present, showed Scrooge the opportunity he had to be a better person to those around him. If Scrooge could change and show kindness to his employee, he could not only change the lives of the Cratchits, but he could literally save the life of Tiny Tim. If he would embrace his nephew, he could find himself partaking in a Christmas feast surrounded by life and joy, things Scrooge had been missing. If Scrooge could show more compassion and generosity to the poor and needy, he could experience the joy of giving while making the world he lived in a better place. The ghost was showing Scrooge that opening his heart to others—that being in relationship with others—was worth whatever monetary sacrifice Scrooge thought he’d have to make.
The third ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, showed Scrooge the ultimate outcome if he didn’t learn to love others. His grave with no visitors and the death of Tiny Tim both showed Scrooge the consequences of forsaking relationships with others.
Relationships since 2020 have looked different, no doubt, but don’t let this opportunity for creatively pursuing others turn you into Scrooge; don’t forget the joy of loving others, that relationships are worth the work, and that you can make the world a better place by having healthy relationships with others.
P.S. CPR is committed to helping people learn how to have healthy relationships. If you find any value in that, consider making a tax-deductible donation today!