God bless us, Every One!

The holiday season is upon us, in full force...What a wonderful gathering today!

Today's special Lessons and Carols presentation of "A Christmas Carol Suite" was truly beautiful, and I am truly grateful for all the hard work of Mrs. Queen, Dr. Harvin, Mr. McFarlane, Mr. Stoddard, Mrs. Rodriguez, Chaplain Cassini, Mr. Stewart, and all of our talented students, who led us so capably in this tradition. Thank you.

For those of you who are interested, here is my brief commentary, and I say "thank you" for allowing me the opportunity to share with you my personal thoughts on one of my all-time favorite stories.

All the very best and I look forward to celebrating more with you at the PTS Holiday Party this coming Saturday!
Lessons and Carols: God bless us, Every One!
December 5, 2018

Over the last month, I have taken the time at home to re-read the classic tale, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I actually do this each year, around this time...One of my favorite stories, and arguably the most well known and loved of all the great works by Dickens, A Christmas Carol has always resonated with me. I can remember when my family lived in Richmond, Virginia, at the young age of five, of being horrified by both Jacob Marley's ghost and by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. As that final, horrifying Specter looms ominously, Ebenezer Scrooge pleads for forgiveness---for just one more chance to make things right, promising:

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!

This dramatic and powerful scene is one not easily forgotten and for those of you who appreciate the late, great actor, George C. Scott, you might agree with me that his performance as Scrooge in the modern day television version is truly outstanding and a genuine inspiration. As a side note, I have watched this version every year since its inception, 30 years ago. In fact, one of my favorite memories of my mother is the time in 1998 when, during our last Christmas together before she passed away, we stayed up well past midnight watching A Christmas Carol while everyone else was sleeping soundly in bed, in order that we might keep "the streak" alive! 

While we were both exhausted the next morning, we had a good laugh about it and I am so grateful now, twenty years later, to have had that small moment with her. Ironically, today is actually the anniversary of my mother’s death, and I am confident she is smiling now, as I share with each of you, my love for A Christmas Carol.

Composed in 1843, A Christmas Carol appeared actually during a time of decline of interest in Christmas, and of Christmas traditions throughout Britain. Dickens himself is credited by many historians for reviving an interest in Christmas and resurrecting many of the rituals and celebrations of the holiday season. Interestingly enough, upon his death in 1870, a story actually circulated throughout England about a little girl who, upon hearing of Dickens' funeral asked,

"Dickens, dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?"

You history lovers may also appreciate that both President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and actor Lionel Barrymore both read the story over the airwaves during the Great Depression.

Perhaps what is so impressive about A Christmas Carol is that the core message and story remain so relevant today, 175 years since its’ creation. While there have been numerous versions of the story, both on stage and even in cartoon form (some of you may have even seen Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol!), the original work is timeless. Although Dickens himself tweaked the story throughout his lifetime, altering words and phrases, he preserved the plotline, the characters, and the all-important general theme...Moreover, Dickens became just as famous for reciting the story to audiences throughout the world, and would often begin his presentation by opening the book, reading the introductory lines, and then, with a dramatic flair, close the novel, and recite the story, word for word.

As we know, Scrooge ultimately receives his redemption; he is forgiven for his miserly and selfish ways, and Tiny Tim lives. For the reader, hope springs eternal with Tiny Tim and, with Scrooge, for, as Dickens shares in the concluding moments,

He (Scrooge) became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.

As we head into the zenith of the holiday season, I wish each of you a most enjoyable time with family, friends and loved ones. While the crowds at the shopping mall may be a bit maddening at times, and the congested traffic will definitely cause an increase in the normal blood pressure level, I do hope that Dickens' message will not be lost. 

Our daily actions truly do have meaning, and the “ripple effect” of our deeds is quite real, for the kindness we show another truly becomes our lasting legacy. 

At this most wonderful time of the year, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a most Happy Holiday season.

Whatever your traditions hold, I sincerely hope that you will find peace, prosperity, and joy, both now and in the coming New Year. 

And, let us remember, as dear old Scrooge so duly noted, to hold Christmas in OUR hearts, EVERY DAY of the year, and, as Tiny Tim observed,

God Bless Us, Every One!
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