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Folks here at the office work hard to get information to you.
They also know they’re more than welcome to share a lighter moment when we push past a deadline and put another issue to bed.
We call it “decompression time.”
It’s when we take a healthy breath and step back from our deadline-driven lives.
It is in those moments that we remember we’re fellow sojourners along life’s highway.
Banter ranges across many subjects and disciplines.
Their insomniac leader (me) often chimes in with off-the-wall comments.
Not many days ago, following a hectic catch-up effort that resulted in getting the newspaper on the street after Mother Nature did her best to intervene with an unwelcome ice storm, we soothed our nerves with a discussion about holiday films.
Because our eclectic mix of folks ranges in age from their 50s to 20s, it was interesting.
The youngsters among us talked about recent releases.
Those in the middle group discussed their favorites that span all of our generations.
The “seniors” among us recalled “classics.”
During a recent bout with sleeplessness, yours truly realized some of the really good films have yet to hit the “upper channels.”
I expressed my sadness during our most recent conversation.
Thankfully, over the years, I’ve had enough sense to set the recording timers on my ancient VCRs.
Included in the collection I laughingly discuss are A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas Vacation. The irony and humor in those tales are easily translated into all of our lives.
After some explaining, even the younger folk among us quickly “get it.”
What I did notice over the past several weeks’ of television fare was something was missing.
Perhaps my basic cable television package is the reason. But I remember, once upon a time, when any time I turned on the television I would run across an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel A Christmas Carol.
Beyond its universal story and appeal, I have a personal connection to one of the films that was produced in 1984.
Ever heard of George C. Scott?
Some only remember him for his Academy Award-winning performance as Gen. George S. Patton in the 1970 film Patton.
Those with a penchant for earlier black-and-white films might even recall Scott as he portrayed the single-minded maniacal military leader in the end-of-the-world military thriller Dr. Strangelove.
Scott, who died in 1999, was praised for his ability to immerse himself into his characters.
I will always remember him for his role in A Christmas Carol. He’s one of the best Ebenezer Scrooges I can ever remember.
I’ll also recall meeting several members of his family in the early 1980s from his hometown of Wise, Va., before the film was released.
He was one focused human being, they said. Having spent 30 years of my life in Wise County, I grew to understand the drive and determination that gritty coal community can foster and produce.
In A Christmas Carol, Scott was something else. What captured my attention was how so honestly he portrayed Scrooge following the final visit of the night from the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
And with that observation I arrive at the purpose of today’s rambling.
Christmas is a warm memory just past us, and a new year now beckons. Soon we will be taking down our trees, packing up decorations and storing away garland. I, for one, think we need to hold onto the spirit of thankfulness, forgiveness and love we’ve all been sharing during the Christmas season.
As we look ahead toward inevitable New Year’s resolution time, perhaps we might all keep in mind what Scott — through Scrooge — so wonderfully shared with all of us.
Scrooge was given an opportunity to repent. He did so and became a model of generosity and kindness.
Dickens wrote: “Many laughed to see this alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”
Perhaps, if we all keep Christmas every day of the year, even after we change the calendars on our refrigerators and walls, we’ll all be that much better for it.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. I’ve read it on occasion over the years when asked to participate in family weddings.
I think the good Lord’s words, delivered through the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth, are valuable jewels of advice and wisdom we might all keep in our hearts while pondering our resolutions.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails.
“But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s all pledge to put faith, hope, and mostly love, in our 2011 resolutions.
I feel deep down in my bones it will be our love for one another that makes next year a year we will all remember.
Happy New Year, everyone.