Charles Dickensâ Spirit of Christmas Present was the second of three spirits to visit Scrooge, who in the end, declares, âI will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.â
Each time I think of this holiday season, and what should be the celebratory nature of the time, I am hard pressed to find the star. I know itâs up there; stars are even out in the day, itâs just that we canât see them. Now, amidst this atmosphere of public spewing forth of rotten, ugly, hateful fears and feelings, as rancid as a sour eggnog, we need that shining star of hope and peace.
At this time of the rolling year, I turn to my well-worn copy of Dickensâ âA Christmas Carol.â In this weary world, I think there are certain stories, poems, songs, floating in the cosmos that are given to mortals as gifts from angels to lighten our way. There is something so eternal and true about these offerings, as with, Dickensâ tale of Scroogeâs reclamation, that they seem beyond mere human creation and more part of a great big shining thing.
I know the lilting tune that is âGreensleevesâ was bestowed from the ethers, as was the superb and ridiculous sound of a donkeyâs bray. Author Kenneth Grahame, in his book, âThe Wind in the Willows,â was a vessel for an otherworldly chapter, âThe Piper at the Gates of Dawn.â Yeats got the, The silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun, but then heâs Irish and deserving. Envious I am of all through whom such holy, artistic grace has flowed and that includes you, Dr. Suess.
But it is in âA Christmas Carolâ that I find a character of such benevolence and universal good will that it fills my heart with a desire to emulate it. I long to walk for just a few steps in the footprints of The Spirt of Christmas Present. He is described as, âJolly, and glorious to see, in a garment of simple green, with only a holly wreath upon its head, set here and there with shining icicles. Its face genial, its eye sparkling, its hand open. And âround its middle was an antique scabbard, but no sword was in it and the sheath was eaten up with rust. In its hand it bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plentyâs horn, and held up high to shed its light.â
As Scrooge moves with the Spirit through Christmas London Town, he observes that whenever the torch is raised, like a bright star, over a group of citizens a feeling of happiness and good humor prevail. Even when shoppers in a hurry jostle each other and might otherwise have exchanged angry words, the Spirit but raised the torch, sprinkling a bit of its incense on the two combatants and they became best of friends. âFor, they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was! God love it, so it was!â
If only I could bear such a torch at this time in our world and speed throughout the mall or globe, stopping in places deep and dark, ceasing anger, easing pain, bringing together those from opposing sides and, by standing invisible at their elbow, with but a shake of the torch, help them find a bridge on which to meet.
Ah, but alas, tarnished as I am, Iâm not worthy of such a noble honor. However, it occurs to me that every year a new Spirit of Christmas Present needs to be chosen. Maybe, hundreds of Christmases hence, my spirit may evolve, the tarnish on my halo cleaned away and I might, humbly, for one Christmastime pick up the torch.
Then, as a gift from above, a message arrives, profound, pure, and true: There is not just one Spirit of Christmas Present, but it is all of us. We are all Christmas Present! All of us, together, here in 2020, holding up our own torches to make one big light.
So, for now, I light my bayberry candle, grateful that I live in Topanga and had a family in a place where neighbors shared Snow Night at Pine Tree Circle, and children laughed, while overhead, carols played, and signs announcing the Topanga Nutcracker would deck our Canyon roads, and a fire would glow warm and bright in the grand fireplace at the Community House.
I will don my gay apparel, go forth like a Who with an open heart, stepping lively through Decemberâs Days, a festive mask covering my goofy smile. I take all that as my torch, brightened with friendship, fantastic stories, the clear sound of a bell, one candy cane, and the great tenderness of the idea of peace.