Ignorance, Want, and a Hairy Chest

From the time I was about 4th grade on, every year I had a Christmas tradition of reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I still have the same slightly ratty copy and while I’ve not made the time to read it in years, I hope to pick up the tradition again. I love the stories of Christmas past, present, and future, and most of all, the story of the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. I love the message that it’s never too late to change.

The 1984 film version with George C. Scott is my favorite one. Today, while wrapping presents, I caught the last hour on AMC. I haven’t seen it in years but I could almost recite every line by heart. Lucky for the rest of the family, they weren’t in the room, because I was having my own weird little quote-a-thon all by my lonesome. Tim walked into the room while the Ghost of Christmas Present was on screen and said, “That hairy chest is hilarious.”

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I suddenly had a rather weird and embarrassing childhood memory that he was my favorite of the three ghosts. It’s no wonder; my childhood crushes were The Bee Gees and Burt Reynolds. Hairy chests were such a thing back then, but it is really funny to me that the producers of the George C. Scott rendition of A Christmas Carol really sexed up the Ghost of Christmas Present. It’s also funny that until today, I always thought that the actor was a hairy Michael Caine. Nope! It was a bloke named Edward Woodward. Who knew?

The Ghost of Christmas present is portrayed as a jovial guy, and he gets some of the best humdingers on poor Ebenezer Scrooge. However, when his scene is ending and he opens up his huge robe to reveal two kids who happen to be creepier than the twins on The Shining, nobody’s paying attention to the hairy chest any more because WHAT IS THAT under his robe?

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That’s Ignorance and Want, that’s what. And because I’m weird like that, I looked it up and Edward Woodward was only 5’9″, so those were not only two of the creepiest kids in film history, they were also very small, but evidently not quite good enough actors to nab the role of Tiny Tim.

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

Creepy kids aside, I realized today that the message of this book and film are yet another influence on how I easily became a liberal Democrat despite growing up in conservative East Texas. From a very early age, I struggled with the financial disparity in my home town, and didn’t understand why there were many haves but many have nots. When someone would  say, “They need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” I thought of Scrooge, and I hoped they would see eventual transformation.

Today, some friends are coming over to make sack lunches for Austin’s homeless. It’s a really small gesture to help on Christmas Eve, and I know fully that we will get more out of if than those we are hoping to feed. There is so much more work to be done, but as I begin my list of 10 New Years Resolutions (a long-time personal tradition), I look to 2017 as an opportunity to reflect on the past, find contentment in the present, and plan on a future where I hope to make a bigger impact.

Thank you all for reading my stories; sharing stories with you is one of my favorite things in the world. I wish you and yours a peaceful holiday filled with love and laughter.

And God bless us all, everyone.”


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