Category: service

Light the World Starts Today

Merry Christmas friends! Today is the first day of December and that means the beginning of the holiday season. I must admit to having a weird relationship with this time of year. As a child of course it is magical but as an adult it has often been a stressful time for me. There always seems to be a fair share of family drama and I almost always get sick, which makes it harder to enjoy myself. However, I do try and be as festive as possible. I should be setting up my Memory Tree for Christmas this weekend and I always go to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater, as well as a number of other activities.

This year my church is doing something that will hopefully help me get even more into the Christmas spirit. It is called the Light the World campaign. Each day they have a video and scriptural passages meant to get us thinking about Jesus and all He did for us. I am not going to share every day on this blog but I thought I would let you know about the campaign and share about it from time to time. Today’s message is about service and having an eye out for those in need.

I lead a weird life because it is oddly small and big at the same time. In a week I can have a podcast with people from Australia and Great Britain and yet not see more than a handful of actual people, outside of church. I work alone. I live alone and so that’s the way it often works out. This means I have to work a little bit harder to find those opportunities to serve than maybe some do. I know I could do better and this video is a nice reminder for me to up my service game. 🙂

What are some ways you serve your community? How does Jesus put opportunities in your path to help others? I would love to hear any suggestions you have. I hope you enjoy the Light the World campaign and Merry Christmas!

Good Deeds for Show?

ice bucket

Recently the internet was all abuzz with the ALS ice bucket challenge.  Fortunately people took pity on me with my injury and did not challenge me but I fully support the cause and making a donation to ALS for their non-embryonic stem cell research to try and thwart the horrible illness that is ALS.

Of course with any big movement you have the companion backlash, which to be honest kind of bums me out.  The internet is used for bad things so often that why pick apart people who are part of a movement that has done good things and at worst are having fun with water?

But one part of the criticism has kept me wondering for a few weeks.  Some have said people are only doing something good so they can look like a good person.  While I think that is a pretty cynical attitude to be taking (everyone I know who did it genuinely wanted to have fun and spread awareness, be part of something bigger than yourself) I’m sure it applies to some who just want attention.

But is attention for doing something good, or being a good person, a bad thing? If we look at scriptures it is a little confusing.  Jesus did many of his acts of service in large crowds with onlookers and observers noticing his goodness and even becoming converted as a result.  As a missionary I wore my calling on my tag and went out proclaiming the gospel.  There was no attempt to hide the good message I believed in.

Jesus often had large crowds to teach too
Jesus often had large crowds to teach too

But the scriptures also teach us to not moan over our fastings and sacraments to ‘be seen of men’.  Those ‘have their reward’.  So we are to proclaim goodness and serve but not be doing it for that reward.  Such problem motives are easy to see in ourselves but I would be extremely hesitant to judge anyone else in that regard.

And what about movements? Does that lessen the impact whether public or not if lots of people are doing it?   Is the first person who did the ice bucket challenge a better person than the one millionth?   Does something’s goodness get lessened because ‘so and so challenged me, and I’m challenging her’? Is that the equivalent of a french pastry that starts out beautiful but the more hands it touches the more distasteful it becomes?

While the message certainly gets diluted, I don’t think it is so much so that it turns from a good thing to a bad thing.  It’s just a good thing that took a little bit longer to get to some than others.

christian_community_your_spiritual_service

I had an interesting experience in college.  For years from high school until my mission I seemed to always be in put in charge of running sub-4-santa programs whether it was for church, choir or school organizations.

One year we were assigned a latino family that lived in a small basement apartment.  We sacrificed and gave them the best Christmas we could and gathered to give the presents and set up their tree. When we arrived at the small apartment the mother had made tamales (which are like my favorite thing!) and we had such a wonderful time.  She had given of herself and so had we.  It was a perfect Christmas moment.

That is why the next year I was so surprised when I shared the story with my co-chair and he looked very skeptically at me and said he would rather drop the items off anonymously.  He felt there was less value in the giving when a ‘big to do’ was made of it.  I remember it stinging a little bit because I felt he was calling into question the wonderful experience we had all had (much like the ALS critics).  So, we did it anonymously that year and you know what it was a forgettable experience.

Maybe it is more noble to serve anonymously without any public acknowledgment but if it is forgettable and doesn’t bond you with other humans I’m not sure?  Plus nobody is encouraged to pass the service on when it is boring. At least most of us need a little enthusiasm and sentimentality to get motivated to serve.

The-best-way-to-find-yourself-is-to-lose-yourself-in-the-service-of-others.-Gandhi-quote

The other aspect to the ice bucket challenge is to remember that the internet at it’s best is a massive community.  And really communities have been part of collectively doing good things together since the idea of community.

ECCFPD-Pancake-Breakfast

Think of your typical pancake breakfast to help a church or a firehouse.  You are going to tell me that everyone there is attending for noble purposes? No just like with the ice bucket challenge some are attending to look good to others, some to socialize, some to eat, laugh, and some to encourage others to support the firehouse.  All those reasons besides the eating can be seen in why people poured ice over their head online.

You could make the argument that nobody makes money off of going to a pancake breakfast; however, the number of people who make serious money on youtube are very small. So the idea that even celebrities are posting ice bucket videos to draw attention and make money for themselves and not the cause is pretty far fetched.

What about 5k runs that people participate in for a variety of reasons not just the cause?  That’s still a good thing they are doing even if it isn’t a primary motivator.  Would I be better off running by myself and donating in private?  I don’t think so.

Turkey Trot for food bank
Turkey Trot for food bank

Some say they just want to show off how good of a person they are.  Well, again given all of the ways people show off how bad a person they are is that such a bad thing?  How pleasant was it for about a week to have TMZ and E! gawkers talking about something good and not rehabs, overdoses and fashion disasters.

I think it is also easy to call into question the motives of people we don’t know, especially if they are famous, while defending those we do.  It’s the same reason why most people like and trust their local congressman or woman and yet are very cynical and critical of Congress as a whole.  It’d be nice if we could give everyone the benefit of the doubt especially when what they are doing doesn’t hurt anyone or cost anyone anything.

To me it was very discouraging to look at videos and see tons of scathing comments full of criticisms of motives, wasting water and a million other flaws.  Criticizing the movement as a whole is one thing but individuals who are trying in their mind to do something good it bums me out.

Charlie Sheen did a video where he dumped $10,000 over his head to show he was giving money vs just water.  I am not a fan of Sheen but I thought it was cool but of course a million commenters (why I don’t normally read comments) said it wasn’t enough money or that he was a hypocrite, jerk, moron etc.  Sigh…

So what does all this rambling mean?  I don’t know.  I’ve been thinking about this topic in my scripture study for weeks and have found evidence on both sides.  Some scriptures seem to say to avoid large proclamations and others condemn those who hide their talents (or testimonies) under a bushel.

I certainly don’t think something is inherently less valuable because it is part of a movement or publicized.  If that was the case no major religion would have value because they have always been part of large movements and publicized.

I guess in the end I prefer to be positive and assume the best of intentions.  I choose to see the videos and smile and I would challenge you to as well.  So what if a tiny minority is doing it solely for appearances.  You can’t control others motivations. Look for the best in people and move on and even if it is for show it is something for show that did something good; whereas, a million other movements like gangnam style dance videos, were merely for fun (which has value).

And finally if you don’t like a movement nobody is forcing you to watch videos.  Just make your donation in private and move on.

So that is my ramblings.  What do you think?  Is doing good publicly better or do you agree with my old college co-chair it is better to be private, anonymous and humbly serve?

And if you don’t think it did any actual good take a look at this

als

A Gift of Service

Most of us that are active in social media have a few friends that aren’t really friends.  They are people we have met on forums or fan pages and we chat about our mutual interests, enjoy each other’s company and think nothing more of it.  I have these from several angles and I love them.

Well, today I had a very touching experience.  I am writing this from my bed at my home.  To get here I had quite the day.

First of all I had a busy morning and I said goodbye to my family, some of which I won’t see for a long time as they are moving across the country and to Japan. 😦

Then I hobbled to the airport and got a wheelchair from Delta who were amazing through all this.  They coordinated the wheelchair, cancelled my ticket at no fee and I got first class for only $59.

Btw, I really liked first class.  If it is $59 again I am totally doing it.  It was a rough flight too.  I came so close to losing my first class snacks when we hit a long stretch of turbulence.  Then we got my bags and I was picked up by my new friend Amber.

She is one of those people that was a facebook friend but I hadn’t met.  I had posted I needed a ride to the airport a few weeks ago and she responded.  I said ‘are you sure?’.  I couldn’t believe that someone was willing to take a complete stranger to the airport.  It was so nice.

I told her I have never met anyone via airport pick up but it went great and she agreed to get me on the way home as well.  Then when I hurt my knee and had to change flights around she was more than amenable.

I called her to talk about the injury and she suggested getting a cane from walmart so that it was ready for my arrival and I would pay her back.  It was brilliant and she took the time to purchase it.

She even got me one with some pizazz.  It was perfect.

cane

Then she drove me home and helped me in with my bag and all the mail I had.

Next was tackling the scary stairs and she helped encourage me as I took it one step at a time.  It was hard but I made it through.

stairs

Once I was settled she took a grocery list and helped me stock the mini-fridge and microwave with food and drinks so that I wouldn’t have to go downstairs for a few days.

collage_128

It was beyond nice.

I’m really quite touched by it. I mean how many times have you devoted days to someone that is basically a stranger? Most of us, including myself, have never done that outside of charity projects or writing this blog.

It would have been so easy to let someone else take care of it but she didnt and I find that remarkable.

Now to some rest and quick recovery.
Thanks again. I’m usually the one giving service and making things work so it humbling to be on the other side for a bit.

🙂

 

Falling Trees and Christmas Cards

I’ve had quite the crazy last few days! As I mentioned in my last post I had put up my tree after a long battle to get it delivered by Five Star Christmas Trees.  The installer did a terrible job and it felt wobbly but I was feeling optimistic so I went ahead and decorated (stupidly!).

This was Saturday but it kept getting worse and worse until finally I felt under the tree and it was floating in the stand.  There are 3 screws on the bottom of the stand which the tree should be hammered into so it is secure and then 3 flat surfaces to keep it straight.  All that was holding it up was the three flat bolts and yesterday it came crashing down.

To make it worse the tree was cut at such a slant that it had no chance of being on a solid footing.  Look at the stem.

stub

The whole reason I had decided to get a natural tree was because of the install and delivery option.  A tree is too heavy and too much for one person to deal with, which I found out when I was pinned down by the tree after it fell a second time.

tree down

Thankfully none of my ornaments got broken.  As I’ve mentioned before I have collected them over years, some of them being irreplaceable.  But after the second fall I was feeling pretty discouraged and covered with tree sap and needles everywhere.  The tree was too heavy for me to lift on my own and I didn’t have a saw to fix the stem.  I called a bunch of people but naturally everyone was out on a Sunday  night in December.  It was proof positive that I can’t do everything on my own! 🙂

So I tried my bishop more of out desperation than anything else because I know how busy he is and I don’t want to be another burden.  I must admit that I cried when I talked to his wife and asked if they could do me a favor and help me out.  They came over and we sawed the tree and got it back up as securely as it could be.  Hurray!

back up

I’m grateful that I found people that were willing to serve me during this Christmas season.  It really meant a lot to me.  It’s nice to know you can lean on your safety net every now and then.  Thanks!

So remember that serving others at Christmas can be as simple as answering a phone and helping a neighbor with their tree.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.  Just be available and willing when the opportunity presents itself and if you are praying for it will be presented!

Merry Christmas and I wanted to share with all of you my Christmas card for 2013.  I have done custom valentines and Christmas cards with my friend Joan for 3 years now and this one doesn’t have a photo.  I developed the concept from a Christmas card I had seen of Santa Claus lighting lanterns.  I thought it would be fun to showcase the year I’ve had with balloons as an homage to my Up birthday/open house from earlier this year. Rachel2013and here are my 2012 and 2011 cards

Rachel2012

 

rachel2

What do you guys thinks?  Pretty fun right! I love designing something unique and fun each year.  I have also done valentines.  See them at https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/02/14/happy-valentines-2013/

To design your own go to http://www.bitsycreations.com/

There is still time to order your Christmas cards!

Merry Christmas and thank you all for reading!

Warriors in Pink

I have been having a rough go of it lately and honestly felt like most things I do have been a mess.   What is the best thing to do when feeling depressed?  Usually find a way to serve so I’ll ask for you all to keep reading my blog if you’ve found any of the 720 posts helpful over the years and forgive me if I have offended you in any way along the way.  I have certainly done the best I could to make this as compelling reading as possible.  My choices haven’t always been great but don’t give up on me!  We’ll get another 720!

But let’s focus on other people and let the chips fall where they may.  I want to tell you about the Warriors in Pink program because its pretty awesome.    It is a program of outreach and well made/attractive products that helps to prevent and find a cure for breast cancer.  The goal is to “keep the topic of breast cancer part of everyday conversation and encourage women and men to engage in self-exams. Greater awareness can lead to earlier diagnosis, which in turn, could save lives”

I can’t think of a much better goal than that!  Breast cancer is particularly important to diagnose early because it is so treatable.   The American Cancer Society says in 2013:

  • About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer

So clearly if we can spread the word on diagnosis and treatment we can save lives.   To read about how to do a proper self-exam and to know what to look for go to nationalbreastcancer.org.  This is important stuff so if it feels awkward, do it anyway.

After monitoring your own health, would you like to contribute as I desired to?  That’s where Warriors in Pink comes in.  They sell wonderful clothing, scarfs, bags, and a variety of items for reasonable prices with 100% net proceeds going to 5 breast cancer charities- Susan G Comen, Susan G. Research Foundation, The Pink Fund and the Young Survival Coalition.  You can give to one of the 5 or all 5.

I was really impressed with the quality of the items I got and just the apparel proceeds since 2006 adds up to almost 5 million in donations.   Pretty great!

The prices are very reasonable with beautiful scarfs selling for $35 down to keychains for $10.  There are also beautiful ties for men to show their support.  The more women we can keep around for their families the better off this country will be.  I firmly believe that.

So its a win-win situation.  You get a quality product at a good price that looks cute and you donate to a very important cause with 100% net proceeds going to the charities.   Please follow my lead and contribute if you are able.

Thanks, Rachel

I love the big and wide pink scarf.
I love the big and wide pink scarf.
Scarf and bag.  Bag has a nice lining in it.
Scarf and bag. Bag has a nice lining in it.

Want to see them up close and personal on this video!  Go for it!

Birthday Bags for Homeless

We had a great activity today for my ward.   It was a valentines date night which would normally make me sick inside but it was combined with an awesome service project so that made it more palatable to a single person like me.  We collected donations for little presents or bags that the local homeless shelters could give to residents on their birthday.  These included bags for men, women, teens and children.

bags

I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t get much stuff or that we’d get lots of the same kind of stuff.  I could just see 20 people bringing toothbrushes or only having enough for 2 bags.  Fortunately none of that happened in fact we filled up at least 50 bags for all sexes and ages and then had enough to fill up at least double that number.  It was so cool!

women getting bags ready bags2

The nice thing is I actually felt like we were helping people, not just going through the motions.  It seemed like everyone was pushing themselves and giving as much as they could.  I remember a few years ago at a ward sub-4-santa I left feeling depressed.  It seemed to me we were giving the family a bunch of junk and I felt a nagging sense of regret at an opportunity lost when more could have been done.  Not so this time.  I was blown away at everybody’s generosity and creativity.

Even the idea for the bags was creative.  It was the idea of a woman in the ward who was speaking with her neighbor Tammi  who is completely awesome leader in our community.  A few years ago she moved to Draper and decided she wanted to contribute.  She didn’t have much money but figured she could make peanut butter sandwiches, which she did. After bagging them up she took them to give out to the homeless.  Since then she’s become more involved with area needy.  Isn’t that cool!

Well, they were talking and the idea for a birthday bag was developed.  Nobody had done it at these shelters before so it was uncharted ground and we really had no idea how it would all turn out.  However, it certainly exceeded my expectations.  What a neat opportunity to serve.

I’m so worn out and tired from this week but I can’t sleep.  Sigh…I need a break!

Oh well, at least I had an opportunity to serve.  I’m glad of that.

Utah Dump Fire

Just thought I would update all of you non-Utahans on the scary turn of events that happened for many Utah residents just 20 or so minutes from my apartment.  Thursday morning the fire was sparked by two target shooters and quickly spread to a current 6,023 acres burned.  Authorities believe the fire was started when a bullet hit a rock setting off a spark.

We’ve had such a dry year and the high temperatures and winds made the ground ripe for a blaze.  There are actually 4 fires in the state of Utah right now but the other 3 are located in less populous regions. The estimates on people and homes evacuated have run the gambit but most of them say around 2,300 homes and in Utah that’s a lot of people!  Mia Love says over a 1/3rd of her city Saratoga Springs is evacuated.

As I watched the reporting yesterday one of the FEMA reps said the response of evacuees in Utah was much more organized and orderly than in Colorado and other areas that have recently been affected by fire.  I have to give some of that credit to my church that regularly focuses on emergency preparedness, having a years supply of food and a 72 hour kit ready to go. For us it isn’t just a good idea but doctrine to live by.

For more information on emergency preparedness go to:

http://www.providentliving.org/

http://www.lds.org/family/family-well-being/emergency-preparedness?lang=eng

Also at the LDS Distribution Store you can purchase food storage at very reasonable prices.

I was also impressed with how quickly the Red Cross, community businesses like Walmart and the Home Depot, The State of Utah and organizations from many churches gathered together to take care of evacuees and firefighters.  I hope I can find a way to help out. The American Red Cross is a particularly amazing organization.  Seemingly instantly they had a shelter set up with donations and food.  It’s comforting to know that if the worst happens your community is ready to support you and get you through it. I love living in Utah.

There were even organizations that quickly came to provide refuge for pets (which are not allowed in Red Cross Shelters).  An animal sanctuary of exotic animals was a great concern but all the animals are safe.

It was also great to see the calm of the evacuees.  I was impressed that so many interviewed weren’t anxious about their possessions but grateful for safety and hopeful that things would be ok. I’m sure they put a brave face before the cameras but still it was impressive.

Anyway, last I read about 30% of the fire was contained but winds were kicking up dust and making it more difficult.  The smoke is palatable.  I live in Draper about 30 minutes away and it is difficult to go outside for any time period.  My friend was hiking up Bell Canyon and had ash fall on her. Same thing happened to friends swimming in the Great Salt Lake. A guy on the news yesterday said he could see the smoke in Park City and some reported smoke as far away as Evanston, WY!

I am not really a gun person but I generally support those who want to own a gun to have that right.  That said common sense and reasonable regulations are appropriate.  Just as a snowboarder is not allowed to go out in avalanche conditions because of the danger to himself and the natural disaster he could cause, gun enthusiasts should be required to follow sensible rules to keep themselves and all around them safe from fire.  This is the 19th fire this year in Utah from gun related spark!  People around here freak out at any kind of gun regulation but why not go somewhere else that isn’t so dry and susceptible to fire?  Is that asking too much?

Anyway, hopefully homes and lives will continue to be protected from the fire.  My thoughts and prayers are with the evacuees and with the brave men and women who are fighting the beast of a fire.

All of these photos are from the Daily Herald.

Could see this smoke as I was driving home from Orem yesterday. Quite dramatic!

You can see how hazy and smokey everything is

Neighbors

First of all, I want to apologize for my last post.  I was trying to make a nuanced point about how couples can forget about their single friends.  This can be very painful.  No one likes to be forgotten and left behind.  Unfortunately, I think the post came across differently than I hoped.  Sorry about that. What good is a blog without a few controversial entries!

Moving on…

I had a great experience yesterday.  Well, it started out not so great.  On Monday I was at my apartment trying to nurse away a splitting headache.  I felt like my head was about to explode. Every noise, every motion felt amplified a hundred times.  These headaches are a side affect to the victoza (which btw I have started taking again with, cross fingers, much better results.   I’ve never had a migraine but from what I’ve heard the symptoms are similar to what I was feeling Monday.

For those of you who do not know I live on the top floor of a two-story apartment building.  Over the years I’ve had a number of people move in beneath me (for a long time it was an Indian couple that didn’t speak English but they had a baby which sure knew how to cry!).  A few weeks ago a new woman moved in and with all the medical chaos I had not gotten around to meeting her yet.

I did notice that she liked to play loud music at night (I found out later that it wasn’t music but her work out tape).  Most of the time I do not care about the music but Monday it was like a sledgehammer.  I decided to go down there and ask politely for her to turn the music down.  I rang the doorbell and she basically said ‘what’d you want?’.  I was a little flustered and asked her to turn down the music but didn’t mention my headache or anything else. She then looked very annoyed and told me that my washing machine keeps her up at night.  I told her I’d stop running it late and I was sorry.

Anyway, it was an awkward exchange and I felt guilty for being rude.  Plus, I didn’t want her to think I was a snoopy neighbor who would whine at the slightest music.  It was just this particular moment that I needed the quiet.  So, after giving it some thought I decided to write her a note apologizing and explaining the situation.   I also said I was sorry for the washer and to please let me know if I am inadvertently causing problems or nuisances.

I left the note at her house and figured I did all I could to remedy the situation. You can only imagine how thrilled I was when later that evening the neighbor and her son appeared at my door with muffins and their own apology note.  She said “I am the one who owes you an apology.  Very sorry.  hope you are feeling better.  Let me know if you ever need anything.” This melted my heart and then we got to talk and introduce ourselves to each other.

One of the hardest things in life is to take a negative situation and turn into a positive.  It is hard but also so rewarding.  I feel like we were able to take something awkward and contentious and turn into something happy and reaffirming.  Two people were willing to let go of their pride and become stronger as a result.

I’m grateful for the experience and will try to reach out and forgive more readily in the future.

Update on My Condition

I just wanted to do a quick update on my condition.  While I am still in a lot of pain I am seeing improvement each day.  Yesterday I went out of my apartment for the first time in days and that felt good.  I pushed myself a bit too hard at the grocery store (especially carrying up those bags!  Stupid me!).   I am working on discovering the balance between managing my pain and pushing myself to heal.  Tomorrow I am going to meet with my trainer Michelle, and she is going to have some exercises and stretches designed to alleviate my pain and get me back on my feet quickly.  I am sure it will be difficult but I can do it.

The medicines the doctor gave me help a lot but I’d like to be off them by tomorrow.  We will see!

I am so grateful for everyone that has been kind to me over the past few days.  The visits, calls,emails, posts have been overwhelming.  How did I get so blessed? If there is anything I can do for you don’t hesitate to ask.  I owe a lot of people favors after this week!  I can also sense all those prayers given in my behalf.  If you had told me on Friday I’d feel the way I do today I wouldn’t have believed you.  Thanks goodness!

I will continue to keep everyone up-to-date but hopefully it will be all up, up, up, from here.

Seriously I have the best friends and family- thank you!

 

Christmas Carol

As I mentioned in my last post one of my Christmas traditions is to go to a fabulous local production of A Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theater Orem.  In the small ‘theater in the round’, the audience-member becomes engulfed in the world of Victorian London and the classic Dickensian tale of redemption (btw, you know your an influential author if you have your own adjective- right!)

Everyone knows the story of the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner” known as Ebeneezer Scrooge.   What you may not know is some of the history behind the story.   In his novels, Dickens had two purposes for writing: 1. to show a journey of redemption by the lead character (or characters) and 2. to profile the horrific state of the lower classes.  As can be seen in Little Dorrit, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and other novels the poor characters must fight his or her way through work houses, orphanages, debtors prisons and Poor Laws- all institutions which made it nearly impossible to progress towards financial stability.  This is the reason why Scrooge (clearly the rare non-aristocratic member of the upper class) views the work houses as the only suitable charity he can support. Scrooge was also not alone in the idea of “decreasing the surplus population.”  The poor were often perceived as lazy and undeserving by the upper class- even worthy of punishment for their apparent idleness.

However, Dickens is not as one-sided against the wealthy as he might at first seem.  For instance, we can see in Nephew Fred the type of rich person Dickens believes in- a man who uses his fortune to cheer others (even his crotchety uncle).  In the Christmas Future vision it is Fred that notices Bob Cratchit’s sorrow and offers comfort for him and his family.  The Fezziwig’s and the men seeking charity are other examples.  They hope to collect “some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts.”   Clearly for Dickens it is not the possession of money that creates evil but the love of it- the avarice and greed.  In addition, the laws of the day supported the greedy and made service the exception to the rule.  Let’s not forget Dickens lived in the beginning of industrialization which brought with it child labor, insufficient pay and deplorable work conditions.   There is also an element of fear attached to Scrooge.  It is out of a ‘fear of the world’ that causes him to hoard money,  and the more he fears, the more he hates.

By using the happy time of Christmas as the setting Dickens creates a foil for the worldly Scrooge  and in many ways a symbolic dichotomy- Scrooge or Satan on one side, Christ and Christmas on the other.  This is why Tiny Tim is the ultimate contrast to Scrooge- Tiny Tim who hopes “the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”   I’ve always thought Scrooge’s initial response to Tiny Tim is interesting:

“Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,”tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

Why did Scrooge have an immediate reaction to Tim?  I think it is Dickens’ way of showing the power the light of Christ has on a sinner- it makes an impression on even the most hardened of hearts!

Could it be there is hope for such a wicked man as Scrooge?  What about the other cold and uncaring of his class? According to Christmas Carol, the answer is yes!  In fact, this is the reason Jacob Marley gives Scrooge “a chance and hope of escaping my fate.  A chance and hope of my procuring.”  Scrooge was lucky to have such a friend in Jacob and perhaps many of us are brought to Christ through the love of our friends?

Through Marley’s gift Scrooge realizes he has wasted his life on a fear of poverty and shut out the light that the Cratchit’s have found in spite of their meager possessions.  He learns whether rich or poor, happiness comes from a changed life, “an altered life”, a life focused on God’s commandments and on satisfying the needs of others with Christian charity.

At Christmas time, I hope you get a chance to read this wonderful story.  For some it has become trite and rehearsed but give it another shot.  I challenge you to actually read it this year with an eye for the lessons it teaches- not just about making Christmas a merry time but of the peace Jesus Christ gives through His Atonement.  The power of His love can change a ‘covetous old sinner’ into “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world”.   In truth we are all sinners and in need of redemption- Christmas Carol tells us that conversion is possible for anyone.

In addition to loving the novel, I have yet to see a film version of I do not like (even the recent animated movie with Jim Carey was good!) .  Whether it be live on stage, preformed by Mickey, or by the Muppets, the Christmas Carol is a classic for a reason.  It reminds us to use the great gift of Jesus Christ’s redemption in our lives and to give the gift to others through service and a merry heart- especially at His season of Christmas.

You can read Christmas Carol online for free.

http://www.stormfax.com/1dickens.htm