How would you fare if faced with how Ebenezer Scrooge spent his night? Would it change you?

Not too many of us are so Scrooge-like that we have become insensitive, cold human hearts in meat-suits…or have we? I suspect that on closer examination, some could learn a thing or two about the heart and soul of Christmas and its deeper meaning in the world of humankind. Many could use a cathartic stroll through past and present, to lay the foundation for the future.

One of the most emotional sentiments in this Christmas tale is by Marley’s Ghost when despairing over “life’s opportunities misused”. Scrooge, trembling with fear asks about the chains his dead partner wears, upon which the Ghost cries out in anguish:

“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard…” Would the journey to our holidays past cause us to cringe in shame, or smile knowing we forged no chains of regret?

In our past, did we practice the very thing we complained about or did we make the effort to have a less commercial holiday each year? Did we sow the seeds that moved Christmas from the to-die-for anticipation of childhood, to the dollar value of adulthood? Can we look back on our past Christmases without the burden of regret that seems to seep into the foundation of human architecture if given the chance, or the blame that manifests when we can’t see the forest for the Christmas trees in trying to please or impress others? The Ghost of Christmas Past would escort us to our best and worst memories. Would we be able to face the worst of them, knowing now that life moves forward and bad passes away, leaving room for hope and a future? Would the perceived failures be our fault, or our memory? Which would we let them be now? One lays seething in the furthest corners of our heart; the other takes its place among our keepsakes and stays dormant until beckoned again. Would we choose to feed on the negativity that some Christmases Past might evoke, or would we choose to fill our life with the lessons gleaned, the wisdom garnered?

Do we hold tight to regrets and blame?

The Ghost of Christmas Present might see the “calm” us. The us that the world sees each day. Maybe capable, maybe not, but the world wouldn’t know, because like most human beings, we’ve learned to hide our flaws. Would this ghost see the person we really wanted to be or another version? Did we pursue our dreams or let them go? Is regret a burden we now carry? The voice of Present would whisper in our ear…let it go. Life is too unpredictable, it would say. Too short, to worry over things. Give…and learn to find the joy.

That’s the meaning of living in the Present.

Regret is a harsh mistress when we become aware that we let a dream slip by. The opportunities missed to help another human being. The chance to serve the greater good. To extend the self. The Ghost would open his cloak to reveal the visages of Ignorance and Want. Could we look at them, knowing we’ve done all we can? Could we move through our holiday without regret? Does the spirit of Christmas wrap us in its warm cloak, encouraging us to help those less fortunate? With our heart in the right place, the frightening images beneath the Ghost’s cloak will not haunt us, because we know we did our best. Ah, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Perhaps the hardest spirit of all for humans to face.

Have we conducted ourselves in a way that, when our death comes, we leave behind mourners who shed genuine tears of loss? Have we given of ourselves? Have we been an example for others, have we respected others and ourselves? Have we been genuine in our dealings with mankind?

Our inner self knows that how we conduct ourselves today dictates how we are perceived in our tomorrows…how we treat others each day is a reliable guide to the way we will be remembered. This time of year spawns the best in us. It urges the feelings of a brother’s keeper to the surface. The choice in paths is an individual one. The spirit of the season can move this world to miracles. Disbelief is suspended and we open our hearts to the flow of energy that increases so rapidly at Christmas. With each passing year, we can learn that we are a Family of Man. We are our brother’s keeper and with each hand we stretch out to help another, a hand reaches out to keep us buoyed as well. With each act of kindness, we move further along on our journey toward the spirit of what should be a year-round effort. It’s not about the once-a-year feeling we get. It’s about holding that feeling in our hearts and extending our hand each and every day of the year. . Scrooge grew from the experience.

How would you fare?