A ‘Ho-Ho Humbug’ Christmas Carol 2022

Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney

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A ‘Ho-Ho Humbug’ Christmas Carol 2022
Last year at this time, the Beleaguered Husband, knowing my deep and abiding love for Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” purchased tickets for us to see a production at the Ahmanson. “How elegant,” I thought, imagining us in plush seats, picturing the Old English set, the thrilling arrival of Marley’s Ghost, the journey to redemption, I might even cry a little bit at the end whispering along with the final words, “God bless us, everyone.” Then, alas, the Christmas pudding collapsed. We received notice, that due to COVID, the event was canceled. Believing the Ahmanson an admirable intuition, we, ignorant reindeer in the headlights, assumed we would automatically receive our refund. With all the flurry and fanatical fun of Christmas around us, we did not carefully read the fine print (Of Course We Didn’t), informing us that for the charge to be credited back to our account we needed to have applied within ten days, not to the reputable theater box office but to the sketchy ticket agency through which my husband had unknowingly purchased the tickets. Sometime in January we realized the error of our ways and after many attempts to request a refund we were stuck with a credit. That might not have been so bad but, let’s just call it, Ick-etsales.com, seemed to offer tickets to limited and what I deemed unappealing events, such as an Iron Maiden tribute band, Disney on Ice, and more Disney on Ice, or the Three Stooges Big Screen Event. Okay, I admit there might be some wacky amusement to be had at an immersive Stooges fest and I bet those in attendance would have come dressed as their favorite Stooge; the camaraderie of Moe alone might have been worth it. But when there was something we wanted to see like Steely Dan, Chili Peppers, Martin Short, the prices were astronomically inflated for really bad seats; I’m talking the worst seats in the house, the very back row at a large arena, or seats with a partial view of the stage. Did I mention their sales site has a one-star rating? I recently read the customer reviews, a collection of bad times being had by all, with the word “scam” appearing over and over. I believe I even heard the Grinch laughing as I scrolled through the woeful tales of tickets that never arrived, hidden, undisclosed fees, and all those crying children unable to attend Disney on Ice. Oh, shame on you Ick-etsales.com. Yet Christmas is about faith and what am I supposed to do with the gosh-darn credit which haunts me like the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future? Now, being the holiday season once again, I’d like to find a festive Christmassy activity to attend. Mind you, not the standard fare but I’d like to range a bit farther afield, something new and innovative, perhaps the Hip Hop Nutcracker, or A Christmas Carol Rap. However, no such exotic selections are offered so it’s the classic presentation of either, The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol, although for a moment I’m tempted elsewhere: What says Christmas better than An Evening with Pauley Shore? Unless it’s, An Evening with Pauley Shore on Ice? Oh, I love the music of the Nutcracker Ballet, that lilting, lively, haunting, melodic journey around the world, complete with transportation courtesy of a Swan Sled, but it is A Christmas Carol we choose. After all, that’s what we missed seeing last December and it is that book I read faithfully each year, conjuring up the sound of my mother’s voice, soft and low as she read aloud to my brother and me all those many years ago. Little brother and I would moan when she stopped reading and said, “And that’s all for tonight.” In the old book, published in 1939, I can still see the small pencil check she made to mark the place so we could find where to continue the next night, I pass my hand across them. One such mark comes just as Scrooge is talking to the Ghost of Christmas Past, who asks a penitent Scrooge, “What is the matter?” “Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing.There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should have liked to have given him something; that’s all.” The Ghost smiled thoughtfully and waved its hand: saying as it did so, “Let us see another Christmas!” What a perfect place to pause. The book is now held together with tape, some pages darkened from when I dropped it in the mud walking home from school where I’d brought it for Show and Tell. But it still shines for me. Especially in that it had been a present to my mother’s son from a former marriage, a young boy who sadly drowned in a Pennsylvania creek at age five. So, in addition to the check marks, I cherish as well, the brief inscription on the front page, To Dear Philip, Christmas 1942. I like to think somehow, at this time of year he knows I think of him. And hold his book dear. There are, I believe swirling through the ethers, certain stories, pieces of music, art or ideas, that are bestowed by our watching angels on worthy or lucky mortals, so as to better our weary world. In hubris I lament not having written “A Christmas Carol,” but I am so happy Mr. Charles Dickens did. I have heard he laughed and cried over those sixty-six pages he composed, as do I each time I read them. When purchasing the tickets, I am charged an additional handling fee of $80. It does not surprise me; I was prepared for some such Hum Bug. Along with the money we will have to spend on gas to drive all the way to Costa Mesa, we are investing much. All I can say is that Tiny Tim better be good. God Bless Us, Everyone!
Kathie Gibboney

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December 9, 2022