A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens made its debut in 1843. It was the most successful book of the holiday season. Eight plays were produced within a few months of the book’s publication. By 1908, one of the earliest films was produced, and dozens of adaptations have been filmed since then. It is not surprising that the story has maintained its popularity for over 150 years. It is a straightforward narrative filled with symbolic meaning and spiritual lessons.
Ebenezer Scrooge, with his “Bah Humbug!” attitude, is a man of greed, selfishness, and a lack of consideration for his fellow man. One night he is visited by three spirit guides. The Ghost of Christmas Past comes to him as a representative of the truth and reveals that Scrooge’s past Christmases were filled with loneliness. The Ghost of Christmas Present represents all the joy and generosity of Christmas, evident by the mound of food and the torch which bestows blessings upon poor. The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come takes Scrooge to his grave. His gravestone is symbolic of his heartless and miserly ways. The grave is neglected because Scrooge didn’t foster good relationships when he has alive.
In the first section of the book, Scrooge’s deceased partner, Jacob Marley, appears to him in chains. Marley tells Scrooge that he made the chain around his neck by being selfish and greedy throughout his life. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard,” he said. Dickens uses the chains as a warning to Scrooge and the reader that one cannot escape the consequences of such behavior.
It is no coincidence that Personal Responsibility is one of the Laws governing Spiritualism. We have been given enormous potential to improve our own lives and the lives of others. We are free to make decisions throughout our lives as we see fit. What each of us makes of our life is our own Personal Responsibility, and no one can replace or override that right. At the same time, no other person or influence can right our errors. We must do that ourselves.
When Dickens wrote the book, Scrooge symbolized Victorian aristocracy who viewed the poor as a scourge upon the earth. The story was about the plight of poor and the dangers of social neglect. By creating the Cratchit family, he reminded his readers to be inclusive as a society and to care for those who need help. It is apparent that poverty still exists in the 21st Century, and like Scrooge, we can choose to help those in need or not.
Another Law of Spiritualism is the Compensation and Retribution Hereafter for all the Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth. This law operates now, on earth, as well as in the spirit world. As we make life choices, the outcome of those choices affects our soul’s growth. When we leave this earthly life there will be no divine judgement. We will have the opportunity to reassess, take stock and decide what might have been done differently.
In Dickens’ story, Scrooge is given the opportunity to reassess his life before passing from the earthly plane. He sees how self-serving and insensitive he had been. He is converted into charitable, caring, and socially conscious member of society through the intercession of the Christmas spirits. Warmth, generosity, and overall goodwill, overcome his bitter apathy. Empathy enables him to sympathize with and understand those less fortunate than himself, like Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit.
During the Christmas season, we too can reassess our lives. That could mean helping the poor, or maybe just shoveling the neighbor’s sidewalk. Maybe you have a loved one who is isolated and alone for the holidays. Maybe you have a special gift you can share with others, or just offer someone your company. This is the season, not to wait for Christmas Spirits, but to become one yourself.