“You will be haunted by three spirits.” Terrifying words to hear, especially from your dead business partner. Yet, those are the words that Ebenezer Scrooge heard in Charles Dicken’s iconic A Christmas Carol.
Jacob Marley had just delivered the most remorseful soliloquy to a hardened Scrooge. In great mercy and grace Scrooge is given the blessing of being visited by three spirits. The visit is the opportunity to escape the undying regret that plagues Jacob Marley.
“No rest, No peace, incessant torture of remorse. Oh! Captive bound, and doubled ironed, not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused! Yet such was I! Oh, such was I!
Dickens probably had no inkling of what impact his three spirits would still have on us 174 years later. Yet at this festive time each year we can read or view a never-ending parade of A Christmas Carol renditions. Each of us has our favorite, spanning from classic productions to Muppets.
This year take a moment to contemplate the words of Jacob Marley. “At this time of the rolling year I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raised them to that blessed Star which led Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me? “
We each have numerous occasions to lift our eyes this season. I’ve been sharing simple ideas that help us to bless others during the holidays: a cup of warm hospitality, a bag filled with candy and awareness for others, the gift of your time and even a freezer full of meals.
Today you will be visited by three spirts. They are not spirits of your past or present. Our Christmas yet to come can have a different outcome all together when we seek to “interfere, for good, in human matters” while we still have the power to do so.
The Spirit of Peace
“Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” we sing it every year. However, for some of us the words have become rote and have little meaning to our own lives.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem, I heard the Bells. “I heard the bells on Christmas Day. Their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men.” He continues, “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said. ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!’ Then pealed the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead; nor does he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail. With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Longfellow wrote this famous poem during the Civil War. Casting Crowns has turned it into a beautiful song. Our country was divided; his wife had died from burns received when her dress caught fire, and his oldest son was severely wounded in the war. He had stated that he feared being sent to an asylum on account of his grief. Yet on Christmas day in 1863 he wrote this poem that still resonates in our own hearts today.
The poem reveals his battle between despair and hope. He finally arrives at hope. He finally believes that in the midst of war, loss, grief and despair that peace will prevail.
Peace will prevail. In the midst of the trials of life, in the midst of negative reports, in the midst of a crazy season remember Longfellow’s words, “God is not dead; nor does he sleep! The wrong shall fail, and the right prevail, with peace on earth good-will to men!” This season do what you are able, to spread that peace to others.
The Spirit of Giving
Saint Nicolas day is observed on December 6th. He was a bishop from the area of present day Turkey born around 280. His legend grew because of his generous giving. When a friend lacked the dowry for his daughter to be married, a bag of coins was anonymously left for the father thus allowing the young woman to marry. Saint Nicolas is the origin of our present-day Santa Claus.
A friend of mine introduced me to Saint Nicolas day by leaving treats on my doorstep. Her speedy children rang the bell and hid. We have never caught them in the act.
This special day was never a part of my family’s traditions, or even on the radar until this dear friend introduced us to this symbol of giving. Now each year I am aware of the 6th of December as it approaches, wondering what special treats will land on my doorstep.
Last year December 6th came and passed and the treats never showed up. That evening a Facebook post alerted me to the fact that my dear friend was stressed out and overwhelmed like so many of us during the holidays. I was saddened that she was struggling and I’ll admit that I was saddened by the lack of treats, but I was determined to carry-on the new tradition I had come to love.
Fast-forward to December 6, 2017. Saint Nicolas was back on the job but this time I was he. Now I know that I just gave away my identity to a few of my readers but for good reason. I want to encourage each of you to pick up the baton.
I don’t know what your baton might be, but I’m certain there is one in your life that has been passed. Grab it and run. The spirit of giving is very contagious. Spread it everywhere. (and sorry for the nuts Bobbi)
The Spirit of Joy
There are times when simple just won’t do. That’s when you throw a Ball. In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s old employer was the jovial Fezziwig, a man that knew how to celebrate. He and his wife are portrayed as the life of the party, jolly and joyful. They are filled with bliss but they also spread their infectious glee.
Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig are my heroes. They are simple people who had the ability and gift to seize the moment and bring happiness to all around them. I admire this quality and thus I have tried to emulate the festive Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig.
Many years ago, I was introduced to 18th century dancing. It’s the type of dancing where you get to lock arms and swing your partner. It is lively and the style of dance I imagine Mrs. Fezziwig would adore. Years ago, a dream of mine came true when I was allowed to host a Fezziwig Ball at the Seiberling Mansion, the home of the Kokomo Historical Society. Sixteen couples dressed in 18th century attire swirled and twirled in the third-floor ballroom, as the snow gently fell outside. It was magical.
Hosting a Christmas Ball has now become a tradition for our family. It is a delightful evening and my husband and I reign over the Ball as Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig eager to spread joy to everyone.
You too have your own gift of joy that you can spread in your own magical way. You don’t have to throw a Ball, you just need to think about what brings you joy and share it.
It’s Your Turn
I believe Dickens would be overjoyed knowing that his creation has changed so many lives. I invite you to host three spirits this year: The Spirit of Peace, The Spirit of Giving and The Spirit of Joy. Jacob Marley’s words are worth heeding. Let us seek to interfere for good in human matters, before we lose the power forever.
Fezziwig Ball Photos by Bobbi Jasay at https://www.facebook.com/Watch-My-Whimsy-Bobbi-Jasay-Photography-1613992338630312/
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