"Marley was dead, to begin with," intoned the soothing voice of my father on one of many Christmas Eves. Just after Scrooge suspected an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, or a crumb of cheese as the instigator of his hallucinations, my eyelids started to droop. By the time the clock struck one and the Ghost of Christmas Past rattled Scrooge's bed curtains, my sisters and I were fast asleep, sprawled out on the floor beneath the Christmas tree.
Despite our comatose state, my dad read on, his low, steady drawl transporting my dreams to 19th century London. Occasionally I would wake up, reassured by the continuity of his narration, and then drift back to sleep.
Through hearing the story of Scrooge all these years, I've come to realize that the general population is all wrong about him. You've probably heard someone hold him up as an example of all that is selfish: "don't be a Scrooge!" Sadly, the most famous of all of Scrooge's sayings is "Bah! Humbug!" in contempt of Christmas as a symbol of kindness and generosity.
I took away a much more significant lesson from this tale. The moral of Dickens' classic is that it's never too late to turn things around, to go in a new direction, to make up for the past. No matter how far you think you are beyond learning new tricks, it's not too late. Despite a life of near reclusion in his personal life, Scrooge ultimately formed strong connections with his nephew Fred, employee Bob, and Bob's son Tim.
Although he was initially quite skeptical of Marley's ghost, Scrooge heeded the lesson of his long time business partner in the end. Marley taught me that I can and should learn not only from personal experience, but from the experiences of others.
The world would be a better place if more of us were Scrooges.