Fighting the Scrooge Within

One of my favorite stories at this time of year is Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol. When I think of the story I usually fast forward to the wonderful ending and sometimes forget the state of Scrooge when the story began. Consider this passage from it where Scrooge speaks with a few men who are asking him to help the poor with a donation:
First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.

Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?

First Collector: Plenty of prisons.

Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?

First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.

Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. Im very glad to hear it.

First Collector: I dont think you quite understand us, sir. A few of us are endeavoring to buy the poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth.

Ebenezer: Why?

First Collector: Because it is at Christmastime that want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. Now what can I put you down for?

Ebenezer: Huh! Nothing!

Second Collector: You wish to be anonymous?

Ebenezer: [firmly, but calmly] I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish sir, that is my answer. I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there.

First Collector: Many cant go there.

Second Collector: And some would rather die.

Ebenezer: If they'd rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.
Now before you say that you are glad that we do not live in times such as the one portrayed here I might remind you that some still believe that the poorest amongst us simply need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps - I am sure that you are not one of those people.

So perhaps we might consider howto fight the Scrooge in us during this season of Christmas. I suggest that we:
  • resist the urge to pass by Salvation Army kettles and intentionally keep sufficient bills in our wallets to be deposit in those kettles;
  • consider writing a check this month to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.. or possibly find a way to volunteer at one of those establishments;
  • encourage our places of worship to support outreaches to the poor, homeless and less fortunate members of our communities;
  • elevate the amount of tipping for waiters, waitresses, porters, cabbies and others who depend on the generosity of the people who they serve;
  • embrace intentional generosity in our Christmas giving and determine to elevate our charitable donations for the coming year.
Just a few ideas. Perhaps you have a suggestion that you would like to share?

... first posted December 2, 2010


  1. I was just reading "A Christmas Carol" to my son last night! It's such a powerful story.

    Your suggestions are spot on. I agree that the pull yourself up by your own bootstraps mentality is still alive and well. Some people seem to believe that the poor are poor because that's what they deserve - and the same for the rich. But I always think about Jesus and how he chose to spend much of his time with the poor - and at this time of year, how he was born in the humblest of settings - a dusty, dirty stable alongside animals.

    It's not our place to judge. I don't know why God has blessed me and my family with what we have, but I do know that God wants me to share it. I think he asks that of all of us.

    And, any time I've shared what I have with others - even when it seemed hard to do financially - God always provided.

    Great post!

  2. This was my favorite line:
    Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. Im very glad to hear it.
    Wasn't also said that "ours should be the business of men" or is that in the movie(s).

  3. Great post Bob, and words of wisdom and advice for our own Scrooge Within!

    I have had some really nice conversations with the people at the Salvation Army Kettle. They are always so appreciative of any thing you can give.

    We also like to send our Missionaries a special Christmas Gift for they personal use, rather than the normal support check.

    I read a book once called Seizing the Define Moment ~~ looking for opportunities to be kind to someone. I have tried to incorporate that into my life!

  4. Sadly, many among us still believe that it is the fault of the poor and downtrodden that they are in that condition and thus it is that they are responsible for getting themselves out of the predicament of their own making.
    "As you did it unto one of the least of these, you did it unto me." (Matt 25)

  5. In the monthly newsletter that I write an article for, I was sharing something similar. It's for the January newsletter so will share it a little later on my blog.

    I really like your suggestions. They are doable....that what's so nice about them.


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