Keeping Christmas
By John Norberg, Humorist s

We had our annual viewing of A Christmas Carol the other night. What a great story!

A Christmas Carol is 171 years old and it's as true today as it was in the time of author Charles Dickens.

In the end, of course, old "bah humbug" Scrooge finds the true spirit of Christmas. "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year," he says after being scared out of his wits by the last, dark spirit.

Dickens tells us that ever after "it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge."

I've been visited by a few frightening spirits myself over the years: The Ghost of Christmas Bills Past Due, the Ghost of Christmas High Cholesterol, the Ghost of the Fallen Christmas Tree Spilling Dirty, Sappy Water All Over the New Carpet.

I always swear to change my ways right I am visited by these frightening spirits. But a year later, I've lapsed to my old, bad, humbug habits.

So I thought I'd see how Scrooge did keeping his promise all these years after saying "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year."

Me: "So tell me, Mr. Scrooge, how is Tiny Tim?"

Scrooge: "Good as gold. It's the greatest story of my life, He is healthy and well and playing like any boy his age."

Me: "So he's outside, running, chasing balls, playing catch."

Scrooge: "No he's inside sitting on the couch playing digital games like all boys his age. What century do you live in?"

Me: "And your nephew Fred?"

Scrooge: "He is such a positive person. Always excited. He's making a fortune hosting daytime TV game shows."

Me: "Mr. Scrooge, you promised to keep Christmas in your heart all the year through. Are you still keeping your promise?"

Scrooge: "Absolutely."

Me: "Then your heart must feel very good indeed."

Scrooge: "Actually, I had quadruple bypass surgery this year. Do you know what happens if you keep Christmas all year, constantly eating plumb pudding, cookies and cake? I got up to 300 pounds! Keeping Christmas all year long nearly killed me."

Me: "And Bob Cratchit? Does he still work for you?"

Scrooge: "Oh, no. I work for him. I kept the spirit of giving in my heart all year long just like I promised. I bought gifts for everyone, constantly. Every week I gave Cratchit another raise. I spent lavishly on decorations. I was forced to buy a huge new home just to hold all the Santa figurines I bought along with those endless Dickens Village house collectables. The whole thing wiped me out. I went broke. Cratchit was kind enough to buy me out and keep me employed in the firm."

Me: "Did you ever marry?"

Scrooge: "Yes, yes. Wonderful woman. Beautiful woman. The joy of my life. She tried to kill me last night. She sent me out in a snowstorm to hang Christmas lights on the house. I tell you, I'm exhausted! Why in the Dickens did Dickens curse me with a lifetime of keeping Christmas in my heart all year long? Isn't one month more than enough to do anyone in? I can't take this Christmas joy any longer. I want to go back to my old miserable self so I can be happy again."

You know, now that I think about it, maybe Marley wandering the earth in chains got an easier punishment than keeping Christmas all year long.

Copyrig@John Norberg