Feeling A Bit Like Scrooge

by Vanessa Kelly.

Confession time. I spend a good chunk of the holidays feeling guilty. Either I should be shopping for presents, decorating the house, baking, visiting shut-ins, or going to Christmas concerts…the list is endless. Then there’s the ever-present sense that I shouldn’t be wasting my time engaging in frivolous activities, but writing instead. The worst, though, is the pressure I put on myself to feel like I’m having a great, splendiferous, holiday fun-fest. After all, if you’re not enjoying the holidays, what’s the point?

And so, ridden with guilt, overwhelmed with the sense that I should be participating in a thousand fabulous activities, I end up feeling like a regular Scrooge. I bet I’m not alone in this either. The holidays can be so full of pressure and so exhausting, that many of us wish we could crawl into bed and not come out until January 2.

What do I do when I find myself snarling at Christmas carolers, Sally Anne bell ringers, and even the guy in the red suit? I spend a little time with the master—Scrooge, himself. Scrooge teaches us an important lesson about human nature, and not just the obvious ones imparted in Dickens’s classic story. Yes, it’s wonderful to learn the lessons of charity and love, but I think we also need a bit of the curmudgeon in our DNA to really appreciate the beauty and the gifts of the Season.

There are, of course, many versions of Scrooge and A Christmas Carol to choose from. But for my money, no Scrooge takes a longer or harder path from sheer hatred to redemptive joy than Albert Finney in the musical version of the tale, simply entitled SCROOGE.

A musical, you say? Sacrilege! Okay, some of the music is corny, but some of it is actually very good. The gritty, poverty-ridden depiction of London’s poor also contrasts beautifully with the opulent scenes featuring the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the old-fashioned, extravagant musical numbers. The sets and costumes are wonderful and portray surprisingly faithful renditions of both the Regency and Victorian periods.

But the strength of this version of the tale rests with Albert Finney’s stupendous portrayal of the iconic character of Scrooge. He’s not just mean; he’s so full of hatred and guilt that he’s almost Shakespearean. His body is as shriveled as his soul, and his personal hygiene ain’t so good, either. He looks like he hasn’t taken a bath in weeks—even his nails are dirty—and his house is filthy, empty, and cold. Clearly, this Scrooge won’t even take refuge from despair in the physical trappings of wealth.

But when Finney’s Scrooge finally breaks free of the bonds of hatred and discovers the spiritual and physical beauties of the Season, his joy is boundless. Scrooge didn’t just get scared straight; his former hatred of Christmas and all its abundance gives him monumental insight into what really matters at this time of year: family, generosity, love.
There’s a second movie I watch to get in the holiday spirit, and it deals with another kind of curmudgeon—the average joe. The movie is A CHRISTMAS STORY, and it stars the wonderfully grouchy Darren McGavin as a put-upon father who battles a broken-down furnace, the neighbor’s marauding dogs, and demands for inappropriate Christmas gifts from his son, Ralphie.

As the dad, Darren McGavin is everyman, trying to keep food on the table and keep the furnace working. He’s more than a little put-out by all the fuss of the holidays. The only thing he really wants is his Christmas turkey, and when the neighbor’s hound dogs invade the house and carry off the bird, Dad’s modest dream for a Merry Christmas is crushed. But how does he handle it? He doesn’t take his anger out on his wife and kids, as you might expect. Instead, he takes them out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The scene where the family is confronted with a whole roasted duck—with head intact—is hilariously funny and very sweet. Like any good man, Dad rises above the stresses of the Season to give his family exactly what they need: love and joy, and a few laughs besides.

Is there a better prescription for the stresses of the holiday season? I think not. So don’t feel bad if the strains of cooking, shopping, baking, and visiting get you down. Without that sense of contrast we might never appreciate the things about Christmas that do matter. At least I wouldn’t. And if I end up feeling every year that I could have done better, that’s okay too. It gives me something to look forward to in the next holiday season.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday, full of joy, love, and peace. See you in the New Year!




  1. Merry Christmas. You just reviewed my two favorite Christmas movies, and did a great job. They really don't make movies like these two anymore. Still, I've added "Love Actually" to my list in recent years. It moves the spirit in its own way. But Albert Finney's Scrooge is the best, and A Christmas Story is hilarious any time of year.

    Thanks for relating your insights. It's good to stop and remember what Christmas is really about.

  2. Wonderful post Vanessa! Absolutely agree with you. I think many of us have a bit of both in us - Scrooge before and after - and it does take that little extra something special to help us realise what Christmas is all about. Thanks for being that something special! ;D

    Merry Christmas!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Whew! My last comment had so many spelling errors in it that I had to delete it!

    Thanks, anonymous! Hope you have a great Christmas.

    And you as well, jojo! Love being part of the gang here at The PCD!

  5. I LOVE A Christmas story! I too feel like Scrooge as I totally want to be getting more writing in.

    Thanks, Vanessa.

    Happy Holidays!

  6. We scrooges have to stick together, Pamela!

  7. If you could e-mail me with a few suggestions on just how you made your blog look this excellent, I would be grateful.


Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you but hope you are a real person and not a spammer. :)

Popular Posts