We all know it’s been a hard year. There’s no getting around it. It’s been tough to get into the Christmas spirit without feeling a little bit like I’m going through the motions. The struggle between wanting to spend it with family and wanting to keep everyone safe and healthy has been a hard one. Do I want to hug my family and open gifts together? Of course. Will I settle for a Zoom gift exchange instead? Absolutely, if it means we will all still be here come spring.

So this year, sticking to the traditions we can keep has been important for me. One of those is reading A Christmas Carol. Ok, I listened to it this year, but I’m counting that. It got me through one long gloomy afternoon of remote working, huddled at my desk at home like Bob Cratchit. When even Christmas music can’t shake a bad mood, you’ve got to call in the big guns. Having A Christmas Carol read to me by someone with a British accent totally did the trick.

A Christmas Carol was my Dad’s favorite book. He read a lot of Charles Dickens, but this was an annual read for him too. I know he read it to us when we were little at least once. Probably more than once. So, it was important to me to keep up the tradition, this year especially.

See, we’ve had a lot of loss this year. In the span of seven months, we’ve lost my dad, father-in-law, grandfather and uncle. It’s a lot for one year, and I know that my family is not alone in this. With more than 320,000 deaths in the US alone, it kind of makes Scrooge’s line about decreasing the surplus population a little more poignant this year.

But A Christmas Carol has always been a message of hope for me. Even a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, clutching, covetous old sinner” can see the error of his ways and learn to care about his fellow man.

If you grew up in Rhode Island, like I did, you are now probably singing the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, clutching, covetous” line, because you’ve probably seen Trinity Rep‘s version of A Christmas Carol. For years, attending was a family tradition. The first year we went, I think I was 6 or 7. The actor playing Jacob Marley flew across the stage and landed in the aisle next to my seat. I was terrified. I thought he was a real ghost. I was so happy to learn that Trinity Rep would continue the tradition, albeit in a slightly different fashion this year by offering a free, video version of the show filmed at various locations around Rhode Island. I can’t wait to watch!

As a child of the 70s, my all time favorite Scrooge is, of course, Mister Magoo. I never miss it and was super happy to find it on Peacock this year. George C Scott is my second favorite. We even watched the Patrick Stewart version last night, and I enjoyed that as well. One of these years I’m going to try to watch them all.

So, yes, 2020 has been a hard year. But Christmas is here and 2021 is just around the corner. There’s a new vaccine and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. So I’m going to take a lesson from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come and keep Christmas in my heart as much as I can this year and look forward to better days ahead.

To quote old Ebenezer Scrooge: “Heaven and the Christmas Time be praised…”

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