One Christmas story that I love is about an old man who has lost his way. At one time in his life he knew about what was valuable and why. Over time, he lost this and the important things in life took a back seat to one master passion, gain. In the end, he is shown the folly of his ways and he becomes reformed character. You know his name as well as I do: Ebenezer Scrooge.
One of the themes that I love most in the story is that you can be good in business and still be good to people. We see this contrasted in the characters of Scrooge and his former employer, Mr. Fezziwig.
At one point early in the story Scrooge threatens to relieve Mr. Cratchit, his employee, of his situation (fire him) if Cratchit takes any more coal to put in his fire. Remember, this story is set in December in London in the middle of the 1800s. With no fire to keep him warm, Mr Cratchit was working in a state of intense misery. With no more coal to put on his fire, he had only the light of a single candle to keep him warm. This is a vivid picture of the lack of concern that Scrooge felt for his employee. Making money was his sole focus.
As a young man Scrooge had it much better than Cratchit. Scrooge’s first employer was Mr. Fezziwig. We discover about Mr Fezziwig that he was a jolly man and a good man of business. He ran a profitable business and expected those who worked for him to work hard, but he was also kind to those who worked for him. He was everything that the older Scrooge was not. We see this in a conversation between the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge:
‘A small matter,’ said the Ghost, ‘to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.’
‘Small!’ echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig: and when he had done so, said,
‘Why! Is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of your mortal money: three or four perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this praise?’
‘It isn’t that,’ said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. ‘It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count them up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.’
Fezziwig was not only good at business. He was good to people. That made him truly successful. The beauty of the story is that Scrooge becomes like his old employer, and even better:
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him……it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.
What does this mean for the world today? Working hard and earning a profit from it is an honorable undertaking, when done honestly. Providing for ourselves, our families, and others would not be possible without it. We must remember to apply the lessons that Scrooge learned. We should be good to those that we work with and those who work for us. We should show kindness to those in need, for one day we may be in need of kindness. What better time than Christmas to start practicing it?