My favorite Christmas story, hands down, is that inspiring message of hope and redemption written by Charles Dickens in 1843 – A Christmas Carol.
Although Dickens had already attained success as an author, when he pitched A Christmas Carol to his publishing house, they didn’t bite. Not to be deterred, Dickens’ passion for the project caused him to take it on himself to bring it to life.
Writing the manuscript in about six weeks, he published it on the 19th of December… and by Christmas Eve every copy had been sold. But perhaps most notable of all was the fact that this moving story caused charitable giving to soar overnight!
What makes A Christmas Carol so endearing… and enduring? I believe it is its living depiction of both wretchedness and goodness that is common to us all. Scrooge, the embodiment of everything bad in humanity, is contrasted with the goodness of everyone else in the story – primarily his clerk, Bob Cratchit, and his nephew, Fred. What’s more amazing is that the goodness of neither Bob nor Fred can be tainted by Scrooge’s venomous attitude or treatment.
But the singular focus of the story is the beautiful transformation that Scrooge experiences between the beginning of the story and the end. That’s what makes it such an inspiring story of hope and redemption.
A marvelous companion movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas, tells the story surrounding the creation of A Christmas Carol, including how the characters came to life for Dickens. In this companion film, Scrooge states emphatically over and over in the beginning that “people cannot change.” In addition, he shows no remorse nor inclination to change, further confirming the degree of his depravity.
But by the time he encounters the three ghosts of Christmas, he is found begging the Ghost of Christmas Future to give him another chance. “It is not too late,” he pleads. “It is never too late!”
That is the truth. We can change. As long as there is life, there is hope.
Because if there’s no hope of accomplishing what you were born for, then what’s the point of living?
There’s good and bad in all of us. That’s what it is to be human. The battle that rages inside us between good and bad is our common plight… and the reason Tiny Tim’s message – “God bless us… everyone!” – is so needed! We’re all in the same boat. And each of us needs that blessing.
I know this year’s Christmas is now behind us, but the message of this story is not just for Christmas. It’s for every day of the year. In fact, I can’t think of a more pertinent and timelier message for the New Year than this!
Because of the lessons embedded in this story that make us better people.
Here are a few of those lessons:
- We can’t change what happened our past, but we can definitely write our future.
- No matter what happened to us in our past, we decide whether it makes us better or bitter.
- In almost 100% of the cases, we don’t change without outside intervention.
- No matter how old we are, how much life we’ve wasted, how much damage we’ve done… it’s not too late. It’s never too late!
Marley (Scrooge’s former and now deceased business partner) tells Scrooge, “Mankind was my business!” And the same is true for you and me. We are here to lighten the burden of others. We are here make a difference in our world.
My “business” in this sense is to help as many people as I can get clarity and conviction about what they were born to do… so they can do it with all their might!
Scrooge found his groove by the end of the story. He makes mankind his business, shifting his focus away from growing his own bottom line to the betterment of those all around him. And that’s when happiness, meaning, and peace find him – that cocktail of gifts we all want out of life.
The one thing I hope you take from this post is that it is not too late for you to change. For it’s not how you begin… or even where you are right now… that matters. What matters is that next step. What will you choose to do with this chance for a fresh start – the New Year that you’ve been given?
Just know that it’s not too late… it’s never too late!