By Mike Butler
‘Tis the season for two of my favourite things, Christmas and my Holiday Who’s Who! Christmas makes me quite giddy! The music, the colours, the gift giving, the time with family and friends, and the feeling of joy and happiness this season brings. I’m a very lucky man to have had a life filled with warm holiday memories, lots of love, and good health, and I’ve never taken for granted what I have. I make it a point to give as much of myself at this time of year as I can. I realize that many people are not as fortunate as I am, so that only emphasizes the spirit and act of giving that I practice. I wanted this Who’s Who to reflect that ideal, and who better to profile, than the ultimate second-chance do-gooder Ebenezer Scrooge.
He’s not an easy man to get ahold of because of the time of year with his giving of presents and cooking of turkeys for needy families etc., but eventually his office manager put me through and we Skyped for a few hours. For those who don’t know about Scrooge, we shall start with a little background story. Ebenezer Scrooge originates as a character of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, “A Christmas Carol”. The name “Scrooge” has even come to mean misanthropy. In fact, even his catchphrase, “Bah! Humbug!” is still used to express disgust with modern Christmas traditions. But his change to embrace the joy of the season that came by way the three Ghosts of Christmas (Past, Present, and Yet to Come) has become a signature tale of the Christmastime.
The story of Scrooge begins on Christmas Eve in the office of his business. There he subjected his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, to long, gruelling hours with little pay. Even on the eve of the holiday, Scrooge refused to make a donation to the poor when asked. His heart was icy cold. By a miraculous series of supernatural events though, Scrooge was given a chance to change his selfish ways. That night, while getting ready for bed, Scrooge was visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley who brings with him a scary warning of the miserable afterlife in store for Scrooge unless he uses this last chance to mend his broken heart and love those around again. Marley sets the stage for three ghosts to take Scrooge on a fantastical journey to Christmases past, present, and yet to come.
When chatting with Scrooge, he recalled those early days of being money-hungry and flaunting his power over people. He said, “I was a miserable man and was blind to my own actions. I was a product of my past and wasn’t able to see what was coming. Luckily those wonderful spirits helped me.”
The first to visit was from the Ghost of Christmas Past, who took Scrooge to see his youth. Scrooge watched as an unloved child grew into a man who loses his first love, Belle, because his love of money loomed too large in his life. Scrooge tells me, “Those memories were very painful to relive but necessary to help me see the error of my ways. I knew I couldn’t focus on Belle or the “what ifs”, I had to move forward and loving my money seemed the only way to go. I was so foolish.”
The Ghost of Christmas Present visited Scrooge next and showed him Christmas at Bob Cratchit’s house. Scrooge’s was touched was touched by the sweet and loving nature of Bob’s youngest son, Tiny Tim. The boy did not look well though, and Scrooge was concerned. The ghost who brought him these visions had even worse news to tell: unless something drastically changes, the boy will die. Scrooge was deeply concerned by this news.
Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future showed Scrooge Christmas day one year later. Tiny Tim has died, as Bob could not pay for proper medical care. The ghost then shows Scrooge his own gravestone. Scrooge begged for another chance to change his way. And suddenly it was Christmas morning. The ghosts were gone, the magical journey was over, and recharged by the visions of his past and warning of his future, Scrooge vowed to be a model of generosity and kindness. Scrooge visited his family, gave Bob Cratchit a raise, and helped Tiny Tim.
Scrooge now gives freely of his time and extra earnings to those in need and Christmas has become is favourite time of the year. He states, “One of my most cherished pastimes is to watch my story come to life on film. I’ve had many actors portray me including Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Albert Finney, Jim Carrey, and Reginald Owen, but my personal favourite was Alastair Sim – he was most believable.”