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A hope note

London’s Sunday Telegraph once referred to Charles Dickens as ‘the man who invented Christmas.’ Many of our holiday traditions ‘ sending cards, singing carols, snow, mistletoe and holly, eating turkey ‘ go back 160 years, to Charles Dickens.
Before Dickens, Christmas was not the major holiday that it has become in America today. Someone checked the London Times for 45 years, 1790 through 1835, and did not find Christmas mentioned once. Ebenezer Scrooge, in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ December 1843, changed all that.
Dickens lived during the Industrial Revolution. He knew firsthand the great disparity between industrial exploiters and industrial exploitees. The second of eight children, young Charles worked in a boot-blacking factory while his daddy was in a debtors’ prison. Christmas represented, for Charles Dickens, a time-out from humanity’s inhumanity ‘ ‘the only time in the long calendar of the year when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.’
Even Ebenezer ‘humbug’ Scrooge had an epiphany on Christmas Eve. He was able to get outside himself and see himself as he really was. The good news of A Christmas Carol is that when Scrooge saw the light, he didn’t have to change jobs or leave town or go into the ministry. He just had to start treating people differently, beginning with his clerk, Bob Cratchit, and Cratchit’s sickly little son, Tiny Tim. He began seeing them as ‘fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.’
May similar epiphanies happen among us this holiday season.