Dealing with Scrooge

Scrooge loves one thing; and that one thing is the exact same thing most who run into scrooges think they deserve.

The best way to deal with scrooge is to stop feeding scrooges our resentment… our anger… hostilities…grief… pain…payback… or bad karma. Scrooges love that stuff. They chow down on it, nest in it, and store up so much of it they never run out of it when they decide to start using it.

The thing here is, scrooges…like in the story ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ …really do have a heart. In fact, there is a little bit of scrooge in all of us, which makes this the perfect season to start doling out free, non-refundable, but highly transferable year-round gifts to get as many of us in an upbeat festive spirit… hopefully year-round.

Gifting a Smile… a greeting like ‘hello’, or a compliment, or sharing good gossip…such as someone else’s good news. We never know whose day we’ll turn around.

Once in a while make a commitment to LISTEN… to let someone speak without commenting. Sending a sincere apology or a kind note doesn’t cost one copper cent either. Just like praying for someone, or one of my favorites… recommending a book that you read and thoroughly enjoyed.

In the spirit of giving, I’m gifting one of my ‘true’ stories (edited for space) inside my memoirish book ©2005/2008 ‘Black Table’.

The Meaning of Christmas

Where was my mother…when scrooge was running loose? Well, for one, when her car was stolen she was illegally parked with the motor running and blinkers going since she planned to spend no more time inside the supermarket than it would take to slip thirty-five cents into a cigarette vending machine. She did get the pack of Tareynton’s 100, but then a couple of guys got her car.

My mother flourished in a flaccid sanctuary that looked exactly like a flaccid sanctuary sounded. Like, a what in the world kind of peace.

She was the Tooth Fairy, Peter Cottontail, the Tiny, Tiny Woman with the tiny, tiny voice, the Little Engine that Could, the Goblin, and good God Almighty, least I leave off, she was Mrs. Claus, too. She rose up like the Virgin Mary around Christmas time, which incidentally, was exactly when my father got to airing his concerns about another plot scheming to rip out another one of his pockets.

My father absolutely, unequivocally, before ever counting all of the reindeer it had taken to pull Santa’s sleigh, hated Christmas. He needed to be incited no further by tying the birth of Jesus in with Christmas to know when a holiday had been overblown.

For every wreath that lined the streets, for every light that trimmed a house, for every commercial that offered another got-to-have-it gift, a new crease would show up somewhere on his face. By December 25th, he looked like a carbon copy of the Grinch himself.

But like it or not, he could huff and puff all he wanted. Like all the wind that wouldn’t take down the three little pig’s house made of brick, it wouldn’t stop my mother from bringing Christmas to our home.

And no, she wasn’t coming out of her pockets. Remember? She flourished in that flaccid sanctuary. It was my father who she ascribed to tear out the hole in his pocket to play Santa—the same man who he vowed every day from the onset of Christmas what he would do if he ever got his hands around that fat-ass charlatan’s neck.

But my mother could care less. For a good whole month prior to Christmas she wanted the house cleaned from top to bottom, inside out. My siblings and I, and my father as well, cleaned the house from top to bottom, inside out. My father supervised.

My mother also wanted Christmas lights strung up around the front porch, which again my siblings and I had to deal with the hanging lights ordeal. We had to select a color combination for the lights, and stand out in the cold untangling the lights and assisting my father with getting up on a ladder to string up the lights.

There was the tree drama, which my father was ascribed to take charge of. Not only did he have to buy the Christmas tree, but he also had to tie the tree to the hood of the car, drive a mile an hour through the city, untie the tree and lug it up thirteen steep steps getting it through the back door, and then drag it down thirteen steeper steps getting it to the cellar to soak in a tub of water. Don’t ask why he didn’t use the basement door. I think it may have had something to do with the thirteen locks we needed to secure the door.

And that wasn’t all. When it was time to stand the tree he had to shave the trunk to fit a tree-stand he had to first nail together, then drag back up the thirteen steep steps; hammer the thorny piney thing into the stand… oops… where’s the damn saw? The stump still wasn’t even.

This sure looked like a lot of work to me, and one thing I hated was a lot of work. All the Santa and elfin drama made me think twice about the meaning of Christmas.

To think my mother had us baking all those cookies for nothing. Talk about embarrassment. But my mother claimed all this Santa stuff was good for us. Merry Christmas helped us dream she said. But I found myself asking if we were dreaming, or hallucinating. I knew of a much less labor intensive way to ensure a child dreamed. All she needed to do was let us hang around her best friend’s children; the one’s with the air conditioners in their homes, and built in swimming pools in their backyards, who wore new clothes at the start of summer and the first week of school, and went to the shore every weekend.

When it got down to the tree trimming my mother showed up dressed in December’s merriness, assisting with separating and repairing last year’s tree trimmings. The mangled and broken trimmings were tossed. The seriously old or troubled trimmings were put in a box and saved for possible use in another year. And the new trimmings got new ties and hooks for hanging. Bows, and tissue paper, and scissors, and tape were everywhere. All that cleaning and the house looked worse than the day before it got good and cleaned. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like all the work involved.

I didn’t care much about the extra stipend she sort of twisted my father’s arm to make him give us either. The money did me no good if I had to spend it down to the last cent for somebody else’s use.

Watching her close her eyes on all the preliminaries it took to pull Christmas and Santa and each one of his elves out of linen and cedar closets, and off tree lots and whatnot, to hear her keeping count of every red cent that came and went was too much. Listen at her:

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” She always used her pointer finger for that part.

“Now the slippers cost $2.99. Your father’s necktie cost $3.99. The play doe cost $.99 plus .03 cents tax. And the bracelets cost $1.99.”

Sitting there looking over receipts as if she needed eyeglasses she persisted. “Now, if all this came to $9.99, and you started off with $20.35, you should have $10.36 left, not .04 cents!”

On to track two she would want to know, and adamantly no less, where the $10.32 went. This drama happened to at least two of us twice. And our response was always the same:

“Well the $10.32 was for your gift.”

Umm, umm, just like how I felt. Now what could I do with a gift that cost $10.32? Like I really needed to have to deal with another laborious chore.

“It’s not the gift, but the spirit of giving.”