The holidays are upon us. They're different in different cultures and religions, but suddenly, in this era of 24-hour news, some of the oldest traditions in the world are back to remind us that today's stories — another anthrax letter, an airport evacuated, the possible death of a terrorist leader — are just that. They're just things that happened, and in the big picture they're overwhelmed by the current of history that flows unstoppably onward.
While some of the other children, lucky enough to score tickets, were lined up to see a new movie about young wizards and witches, I watched an old ghost story on stage tonight. Mom and I went to see "Scrooge, the Musical" at the local junior college, produced by their theatre arts department. Despite some distracting technical problems, plus a musical that has only one memorable song, the kids put on a good show.
It's hard to know how to fit this nineteenth century tale into a twenty-first century context. But in a way, that's the point of the story, remembering what it was that brought us to where we are. In recognizing the ghosts of our past failures, we can resolve to correct them before the relentless future comes along, and we find people dancing on our coffin and Tiny Tim cold in his grave.
Scrooge's wake-up call changed his life because he discovered he could change his world for the better, just by looking up and seeing the possibilities. All he had to do was start doing it. In a way, the United States had its head down, counting its schillings, before September 11. Since that horrible day, we've learned to appreciate that we have a place in the wider world — a fact we seemed to have forgotten for awhile.
With a lot of effort on our part, we have the capacity to make some lives better. It's certainly within our power to buy the Cratchits a Christmas turkey.