There’s a scene in A Christmas Carol where the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Ebenezer Scrooge back in time to a holiday party being hosted by Scrooge’s old boss, Mr.Fezziwig.
Scrooge is overjoyed to see his former employer and fondly recalls how kind Fezziwig had been to his workers. The Ghost, however, is not impressed.
“He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money,” the spirit says. “Is that so much that he deserves this praise?"
Scrooge explains that the happiness Fezziwig gave to his clerks by throwing this bash was as “quite as great as if it cost a fortune.”
It was a lesson that Scrooge had forgotten—that it often doesn’t take a great deal of effort to make people happy. And I saw both sides of that lesson in the last 48 hours.
Christmas is almost here and while the holidays can be a difficult time of the year, I do enjoy listening to the carols.
The first Christmas hymns started to appear in fourth century Rome and I must say that the holiday has produced some of the most beautiful music of all time.
I am, of course, referring to the old timey carols, like "O Holy Night,” and “I Saw Three Ships,” as opposed to such musical monstrosities as “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas.”
The latter, by the way, is such an astounding yuletide abomination that I defy you to listen to it in its entirety without slashing your wrists or hurling your computer out the window—or both.
Now I was walking down Grand Street on Friday night in my usual semi-conscious state when I heard people—real live human beings—singing Christmas carols.
All Together Now
I was shocked. I didn’t think people did that kind of thing anymore, but there they were; a small group of people on the other side of the street in Santa hats singing “Joy to the World.”
They were such a welcomed sight. With all the anguish that’s been going on lately, you could almost forget it’s Christmas.
This town seems to be run on cynicism, so it was comforting to see people enjoying the holiday without putting air quotes around it. I just wish I had taken the time to thank them.
I got up the next morning to find the unseasonably warm weather had skipped town and turned my Saturday shopping trek into a seriously cold affair.
As I approached 75th Street and Fifth Avenue, I heard the sound of the Salvation Army band—two guys with horns, actually—playing carols.
I threw a buck into their bucket and a woman who was ringing a bell wished me a Merry Christmas.
“Stay warm,” she added.
Stay warm indeed. I would be home in no time, while these poor people would be out in the cold—literally—for God knows how long. Like the carolers from the previous night, these folks had really put me in the holiday mood and I thought it would be nice to return the favor.
It’s so cold, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could get them some hot chocolate?
And no sooner did I think this then I saw a Dunkin Donuts on the next block. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for most of my life and I never noticed it before. It was like the place had been instantly assembled just for my benefit.
I marched right in and ordered four hot chocolates and brought them out to the carolers.
They were very surprised and quite happy to get this little boost—but not as happy as I was. It cost me about 7 dollars in our mortal money but I felt as if I had been given a fortune.