Go forth and spread the joy!
With Christmas nearly upon us and so many of us prepared to watch “A Christmas Carol” (and one can only hope it’s the Alastair Sim version), I suddenly thought of this quote because, after all, central to “A Christmas Carol” are ghosts.
Ohhhhhhh, ghosts. No, that’s not the quote. It’s coming.
This is from the novel “The Secret Place” by Tana French:
“Everyone in history’s thought they were the ones who finally knew everything. In the Renaissance, right, they were positive they knew exactly how the universe worked, ’til the next set of guys came along and proved that they were missing like a hundred important things. And then that set of guys were sure they had it all down, till another set came along and showed them parts they were missing. So it’s pretty unlikely, just mathematically, that we’re living in the one single era that happens to finally have everything figured out. Which means there’s a decent possibility that the reason we can’t explain how ghosts and stuff could exist is because we haven’t figured it out yet, not because they don’t. And it’s pretty arrogant of us to think it definitely has to be the other way around.”
She’s got a point. Were I a ghost, I’d be pretty ticked off at people who have decided, purely on scientific evidence (which we know is fake news, as you know) that I don’t exist. Tell me I don’t exist when I start moving things around on your kitchen table or create a really, really cold spot in a nice warm room. Science schmience.
Many years ago, my daughter tried to conjur up a ghost. I can’t remember a ghost of what, but a ghost. So she had to move into our guest room, I forget why, and put out some kind of weird bread, I forget what, and sleep in there waiting for the ghost of whomever to arrive. It didn’t. She was disappointed. I was relieved.
And I remained relieved until I read that Tana French quote, because it occurred to me that just because the ghost didn’t show up when Sara expected it doesn’t mean it might not yet pop in.
“Sorry, I’m late.”
“Yeah, by about 30 years.”
“Hey, I was busy, all right? Don’t make trouble.”
“Busy doing what? You disappointed my daughter.”
“Who am I? Santa Claus? I never disappoint nor bring joy. I just show up.”
“Well, I’m here now.”
Suppose it does show up? What am I supposed to do with it. I say “it” because I don’t recall if Sara was trying to conjur a male or female ghost and what it was supposed to do other than just be here.
And what if it arrives now, at this time of year?
“Hello, Sorry I’m late.”
“Wow. Are you the ghost of Christmas Past?”
“Christmas Yet to Be?”
“No, no. No such thing.”
“I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present.”
“Oh, cool. Where is it?”
“That you’re the ghost of. Christmas present? Where is it?”
“Not that kind of present. Now.”
“Christmas Now. Christmas Present. Now.”
“That’s it? Present as in now?”
“Oh. Well, that’s a disappointment.”
“Oh, well, sorry.”
“No, no, it’s all right. Of course, if you have nothing for me, I don’t know why you bothered to show up.”
“Somebody called me.”
“Yeah. Sara. But that was about 30 years ago.”
“I got held up.”
“And you couldn’t bring me a present?”
See, friends, it’s Christmas and at Christmas, my thoughts turn to stuff. Gimme, gimme, gimme, that’s what I’m all about. You’re a ghost? So what? Gimme. You ain’t got? Then don’t show up.
I know you’re a better person than I. I know your thoughts turn to giving and that’s wonderful for you. Give, give, give, that’s terrific. You’re so good. I love you, you’re so good.
But I’m not good. I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m Scrooge before the ghosts came. I’d have Bob Cratchit working day and night on Christmas. Christmas Eve, too.
“You’ll go home when I say you can go home, Cratchit! Bah! Humbug!”
I’m glad, though, that you don’t feel that way. I’m glad the spirit of Christmas, the spirt of Chanakuh, the spirit of Ramadan, are always in your heart. You make up for what I lack. Good for you.
So, whatever season you celebrate, go forth and spread joy.
I’m waiting for the Ghost of Christmas Stuff.