Accounting for more than numbers

Ebenezer Scrooge at his ledger – more important to him than his nephew’s Christmas greetings. Victorian Web.

The new year brings annual habits. Some of my friends are already eating crow about their promises to eat less, workout more and save somewhere in between. Others are still writing cheques (remember them?) with 2017 in the date box. Me? Well, I ran into my annual problem, especially at the franchise stationery shop.

“Do you have any ledgers?” I asked the clerk.

“You mean like lined-paper ledgers?” she said as if I had just asked her to fix my typewriter, give me a roll of pennies or fill ’er up. Then, she shook her head unsympathetically and I realized this was a no-go.

A Dickens of a story

Church of the Ascension, immediately after our reading of A Christmas Carol, Dec. 3, 2017.

I found Christmas over in Port Perry last Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t alone. And, no, there wasn’t a sudden conversion in my life. But I was in a church. A few minutes after 3 p.m., last Sunday, I was invited to a lectern to initiate a fundraiser with these words:

“Marley was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that. … Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.”

The point of it all

XXX plays Bob Cratchit in the 1951 movie version of A Christmas Carol.
Mervyn Johns plays Bob Cratchit in the 1951 movie version of A Christmas Carol.

I’ve been thinking about a mythical, historical Christmas dinner lately. It’s the one that featured a cooked goose, hissing gravy, mashed potatoes, the gush of stuffing, two small children gorged in sage and onion to the eyebrows, and a pudding regarded as the greatest success achieved by the housewife since the beginning of her marriage. But it’s the Christmas toast proposed by the man of the house, I’ve remembered this week.

“I’ll give you Mr. Scrooge,” announced Bob Cratchit in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, “the founder of the feast.”

“Such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge,” Mrs. Cratchit scowls. And then she relents at her husband’s insistence, “I’ll drink his health for your sake and the Day’s.”

Fighting humbug

No one owns Christmas
"...Christmas has done me good."

It’s been hard this year. Teaching and marking at the college – with a particularly challenging crop of journalism and broadcasting students – have nearly swamped me. Close friends have battled health problems, so I’ve spent what little time I had left trying to help. On top of that, I’ve found myself shouting at the radio in anger because the “the holiday season is here” advertisements began right after Halloween – they didn’t even wait for Remembrance Day to pass. Finding the Christmas spirit, this year, has proved tougher than usual.

I expect all that to change this Sunday, however, when I go to church.