The holiday season brings us all kinds of classics…classic carols, classic foods, and classic movies. My favorite classic movie is “A Christmas Carol,” and I go as far as having a favorite version. I’m partial to the 1951 adaptation with Alistair Sim, complete with the reflection of the stagehand, which unexpectedly appears in the bathroom mirror during the “morning after” scene at the end.
To me, Ebenezer Scrooge is someone who goes through a reconnection rather than a transformation. He reconnects with the man he was in his younger years. And what started all this introspection? It was a visit from Scrooge’s old business partner — and friend — Jacob Marley.
Scrooge tries to dismiss Marley by saying, “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” As often happens, Scrooge ignores the concerns of his old friend.
Friends and family, though, are such an important part of our lives. They are woven into the very fabric of who we, as individuals, are by their influence and example. They keep close to us in spite of our foibles.
The Mayo Clinic reports that good friends are good for your health. Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends also
• Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
• Boost your happiness
• Reduce stress
• Improve your self-worth
• Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
• Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise.
As Bernard Meltzer put it, “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
Even the usually narcissistic character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the television show “The Big Bang Theory” recognizes the importance of friendship. In one episode, he developed a friendship algorithm to follow in becoming friends with another character on the show.
Dr. Cooper had reduced the process of making friends to a shared meal and a “least objectionable activity.” The algorithm didn’t help much. It seems his total lack of social skills, a tenuous understanding of irony, sarcasm, and humor, and a general lack of humility or empathy got in the way. Friendship, it appears, is made up of social skills and humility and empathy.
My high school yearbook quoted Albert Camus, “Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” There is a humility and an empathy and a “connectedness” in walking beside.
During this time of year friendship, and the connectedness it offers, is underscored by several major cultural celebrations. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, who called us to love our neighbors as ourselves and help others in the way we each would like to be helped. The Kwanzaa value of Ujima talks about helping to solve the problems of our brothers and sisters. The traditions of Hanukkah include the bravery and unity of the family, as well.
Scrooge lost his connection to his sister and broke his connection with Belle, the woman he loved, and, thereby, lost his way, I think.
I have a friend, let’s call him Bill, who asks me if I scare myself when I look in the mirror. He’s joking…mostly, but truth be told, I guess I do sometimes.
Like Bill does with me and like Belle tried to do with Scrooge, it’s our friends and family that make us take a look in the mirror to assess what we see. They are also the ones who close our jaws for us when we’re surprised by the person staring back.
So in this season so founded on family and friendship, take time to share yourself with those who really want to know that you care. Don’t relegate it to a Twitter feed or a Facebook post. Make this meaningful. Make it face to face and person to person.
And be sure to cherish this moment, along with every moment. Cherish every moment with your friends and family. Even if you were to somehow know that you have a 1,000 years, cherish every moment you spend with a friends and family.
And don’t be afraid to take a long look in the bathroom mirror and make sure the person you see is the person you are expecting to see.