It seems that some of the world’s greatest literature includes a ghost or two. In Shakespeare’s work, the protagonist is often confronted with ghosts. Spirits are sometime seen as evil or forces from the devil. Some might be portenders of future events. Some ghosts fill our dreams, our thoughts and our imaginations.
In the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, as told by Charles Dickens, ghosts lead this wealthy man through the past, present and future and help him see the mistakes he’s made – the state of the world outside his own and how he can change the course of his life. He is first confronted by the ghost of his dead business partner, warning him of what lies ahead if he continues on the same path Marley forged in life.
The ghost of Christmas past is met next. How many times, especially during the holidays, do we dwell on past Christmases? We may have adopted several traditions over the years and become disappointed when they are glazed over by something else. We may look at those old memories and wonder why we can’t have it like it was way back when. The truth is, time marches on. New traditions are formed. New ways of celebrating the birth of Christ happen. Just as generation after generation has difficulty understanding the new one, we all tend to think that nothing can take the place of what once was.
Scrooge is swept away by the Ghost of Christmas Past to the early years of his life – years filled with ambition, climbing the ladder of success and experiencing loss of those he loved. In his quest for success he became shrewd and miserly, but lost out on the important things that could’ve changed the outcome of his life. His goals became obsessive and his dreams took a back seat.
Scrooge witnessed the replaying of his young life – his falling in love – the celebration of Christmas at the Fezziwig’s home and all the joy surrounding it. Then reality set in. His youthful heart became calloused with ambition and in the process overlooked the true joy of living.
We can’t go back and change what was. It would be lovely if we could, but then what would we learn from those difficult choices and mistakes? Our past is over and done, but it is still a part of us. Changing the focal point of our living is what makes the future brighter. As Christmas draws near, let’s not forget what it’s all about. A little child was born in poverty. His life had been predetermined by God, His Father. He would only live 33 years, but He’d change the course of the salvation of man’s soul for eternity.
All the festivities, the special food, the gifts are nice reminders of our joy at this time of year, but the true satisfaction comes from knowing that our redemption was paid for by that little baby – God with us.
Scrooge was cut to the core by his visit to the past. Surely his mind was reeling over what could have been. We all go through thoughts like that. The thing that makes stories into classics is how they remain pertinent at any time in our lives.
“Spirit!” said Scrooge in a broken voice, “remove me from this place.”
“I told you these were shadows of the things that have been,” said the Ghost. “That they are what they are, do not blame me!” Charles Dickens – “A Christmas Carol”