A Christmas Carol Is A Movie We Must Watch Every Year


It reminds us we're never too late upon our path to be reborn

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2rRznX_0Y0P9Y7t00Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

"I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humor with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it."

— Charles Dickens, Preface to A Christmas Carol

I’m sure you have some kind of tradition around the holiday season — something you almost find yourself needing to do. For me, it’s watching Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Not just any version; many have been made over the years now. It has to be the version from 1984 with George C. Scott.

I’m not sure when this started for me. As a kid I remember it on in the background, and it never appealed to me. As I got older, I started to like it more and more. At first for simple reasons. It reminded me of an easier time, when Christmas was more about fun and less about work. Also, it brings me back to a time when both my parents were alive; there’s that link too.

The acting is also top notch too, particularly George C. Scott. The actors feel everything they say, becoming their counterparts on screen. However, the storyline is what grips me and doesn’t let me go. As I aged, whenever I saw this movie a powerful feeling came over me, the nature of which is hard to explain.

I don’t think I really understood it till this Christmas. As I walked through the broken neighborhood I work in and saw the countless addicts wondering down the street, it became apparent. Redemption and rebirth. That’s what speaks to me in the story. What’s more, it’s an eternal message — one we all need, especially today.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3GKPko_0Y0P9Y7t00Pixabay — Picture By Scholty1970

In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge shows off his awful nature in full glory. He’s visited by the tormented spirit of his former business partner Jacob Marley. The ghost wears a thick pair of chains attached to him for eternity. Marley warns each link was forged by his own hand, through the careless choices he made in life. What’s more, Scrooge’s chains are much bigger and must be addressed now.

I saw ghosts on the street that day too. It’s a regular sight to see scarecrow-like people walking up and down the street with vacant looks in their eyes. The heroin addicts are always easy to pick out. They do this odd dance, we call it “dipping”. If it were on stage, it would be one of those performance art things that more resemble strangeness than beauty.

In the dip, they will stop in mid-step, looking like they’re asleep on their feet, slowly leaning ever-so close to the ground. Strangely, they rarely fall. Yet they’ll contort themselves into the oddest shapes while standing dead in the middle of the sidewalk. 

Other times, I’ve seen them do it in the middle of the street blocking traffic. The performance art never ends where I work, it just repeats endlessly. These ghosts roam continuously rattling their chains — building each link with their own hand.

As terrible as these ghosts sounds, in the movie and on the street, Jacob Marley offers hope. Despite the eternal chains, terrible choices, and pains Scrooge caused himself and the world, he can be redeemed. It’s not too late. It’s not too late for him, and it’s not too late for us.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=443pqq_0Y0P9Y7t00Addicts Camping Out In Kensington (April 1, 2020) — Photo By Kimberly Paynter/WHYY Public Television

A close family friend was one of the ghosts that wanders the street around our work. He spent endless time creating his chains. Every time he showed a glimpse of hope, he’d forge another link. At one point he was living in his car, eventually losing that. He’d spend time sleeping on the street. He’s near his 60’s now and after over 30 years, he’s finally on the straight and narrow. He bears the scars on his face, but also a wide smile. It reminds me of Scrooge after his visit with the ghosts.

Just like Dicken’s character, he needed to be tortured by a parade of spirits before he became strong enough to change. However, this isn’t only his story, it’s mine, and yours too. How much time have we spent creating our own chains, link by terrible link? That’s why the story is so powerful. We all need that redemption, often only finding it after torture by our own ghosts.

It’s a story of hope we all need today. Moreover, it’s an eternal tale. There’s an ancient symbol you’ve likely seen before — the phoenix. It’s existed since the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, likely before that too. The bird lights itself on fire, becoming new again; I’m sure you know the story.

Nissim Taleb in his book Antifragile explains the city of Beirut adopted the bird as its symbol. The city has ancient origins as well and has been burned down seven times over its history. Taleb says each time it came back stronger, in one of the rebuilding efforts finding an ancient Roman ruin which was lost.

Even the ancients needed their eternal story of rebirth and redemption. In our current age, A Christmas Carol is ours. Jacob Marley may be a terrifying image, but he brings hope. Scrooge may be a hideous creature, but he’s not hopeless. Neither are we. The chains we create in life can be broken if we learn the lessons from the spirits that torture us.

It’s only natural to forget. It’s only natural to forge more links, but the story is there every year to remind us. A Christmas Carol is our phoenix; it’s a reminder we can all be redeemed. No matter how big the chains we’ve forged, it’s possible. So, when Christmas comes along, stop and watch George C Scott and listen to the message of hope from Jacob Marley. It’s the message we all need, especially now.


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Work out fanatic, martial artist, student, MBA, and connoisseur of useless information. I try and work a combination of history and philosophy into modern day life. I can be interesting and awful at the same, but you'll generally learn something worthwhile when you donate some of your time to read my work.

Bucks County, PA

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