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In Defense of Ebenezer Scrooge

In the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol, the character of Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a transformation from grumpy curmudgeon to generous benefactor.

'Tis the season to be reminded that the miserly Scrooge is quite admirable from an economic point of view!


I do not personally celebrate Christmas. Originally it was a pagan celebration of the passing of the winter solstice and the promise of better seasons ahead. The early Christians objected to it and, failing to stamp it out, incorporated it into Christianity via the clearly false idea that it was Jesus's birthday. This left people able to have their fun and their piety, too.

In modern times, the focus of Christmas has shifted again with the transformation of St. Nicholas into modern-day Santa Claus and his merry gang of elves and reindeer, distributing toys produced in an unworkable socialist manner. Despite the implicit endorsement of socialism, there's a lot to like about Santa the man, from his hearty ho-ho-hos to his commitment to rewarding only virtuous behavior. But I can't endorse the fantasy because in practice it means lying to children, and I'm a stickler for honesty.

I approve of the seasonal gift-giving — there's nothing wrong with it economically or ethically — and I think it's great to revel in good company and gift-giving and enjoying time with each other. But I don't see any reason to concentrate it at the holidays. That puts it on a schedule. The crowds make holiday shopping stressful both for the shoppers and for the people who work in stores. Combine that with everybody trying to get vacation at the same time and trying to travel at the same time, and the stress continues to build.

Why should everyone do these things at the same time and at the same frequency? Wouldn't we celebrate things more often — and wouldn't the celebrations be more appreciated — if they were held when the events of our lives merited them instead of on an annual schedule where they can become a chore instead of a joy?

Scrooge gives us this reminder of tolerance: "Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."

Tiny Island