Unless you live in the South Pole, chances are you’ve read or seen Charles Dickens’ epic tale, “A Christmas Carol.” Ever since I was a kid, this has been one of my favorite books. I love seeing Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from cold and callous to vulnerable and kind. My favorite part is always at the end when Scrooge, a bitter curmudgeon, says he will honor Christmas in his heart and “try to keep it all the year.” I didn’t fully understand it when I was younger. Keep your Christmas decorations up? Listen to carols all year? But this is a phrase that I’ve grown to love more year after year.
At Christmas-time we treat each other a little differently. We are more forgiving of people who have mistreated us. We show more love to our family and friends than we normally would. We show more compassion to strangers, particularly those who are down on their luck. We recognize that our weary world needs rejoicing, and we are eager to help. In the bleak midwinter, during one of the coldest months of the year, that’s when we tend to show the most warmth to those around us.
The phrase “keep Christmas in your heart all the year,” is meant to make this warmth we show in December last longer than the short 25 days leading up to Christmas. It doesn’t have to be December 24th for us to reach out to an old friend. It doesn’t have to be snowing for us to donate old blankets to our local animal shelter. Why not show this kind of love and compassion all 365 days of the year?
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” taught me that Christmas is more than just a day. It’s a state of mind. I encourage you not to fall back into your daily routine once the holidays are over, the wrapping paper have been cleaned up and the Christmas lights have been put away. If you try to do one nice thing a day, you will be a living demonstration of the spirit of Christmas. Cook dinner for your local Ronald McDonald House. Send your grandma a handwritten card. It could be as simple as offering a smile to the gas station cashier. The possibilities are endless, and these small things will help you create literal peace on earth. Ebenezer Scrooge will be proud of you for “keeping Christmas in your heart all the year.”