I have all the classic, and not so classic Christmas specials and movies on DVD. I love the feeling I get watching Miracle on 34th Street every Thanksgiving. I only watch the original of course , I don’t believe in remakes of classics.
There have been many, many versions of Charles Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol, and a few have been done well. I enjoyed the 3D version from Disney, the illusion of snow falling in the theater was pretty cool. However, none has ever come close to my all-time favorite, the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. Not wanting to turn this post into a “review”, let me just say, if you haven’t seen this version you are missing out, and need to go out and get it post-haste!
I seem to see something new every time I view it, something I had somehow missed before, and last night was no exception. I was watching the scene when we are first introduced to Tiny Tim. He is standing outside a toy store, looking in the window, fascinated by all the animated, mechanical, and colorful toys on display for Christmas. I watched his eyes so closely last night, the eyes of a child just sparkling with joy and wonder, a little smile on his face. Then someone from inside the store removes a toy sail boat from the window, and for the first time I noticed how Tim’s eyes cloud over, and his joy is replaced by a look of envy and longing. It only lasts a second, and then you see the smile return to his face as his focus turns back to the other toys in the window.
This scene hit something deep inside of me last night. You see, that split second of longing in Tim’s eyes is what true poverty looks like at Christmas, and throughout the year. This movie shows so much of the gratitude that the Cratchet family has for what so many take for granted. I love how excited they are about the goose, the pudding “singing” in the cupboard, and the TWO glasses of gin punch! They are just so happy and grateful. This is one benefit of being so incredibly poor. You learn how to find joy in the least of things. You stay focused constantly on what you have been blessed with and learn to be content.
If I had never been homeless, never been cold, never been hungry, I would not have the measure of gratefulness I have now. When I lay down to sleep at night I thank God for my blankets, my pillows, for a place to lay my head, because I know what it is to not have these things. I am truly grateful every time I put clothes in the washing machine, because I know what it is like to not have one. I remember when I had to wash hubby’s work clothes in the bathtub each night on my knees, my hands cramping from wringing out heavy jeans, and then hanging them across the kitchen to dry. You won’t ever hear me complain about doing laundry. Having gone to bed with my belly growling more than once gives me the ability to be happy and thankful for whatever is in the fridge or cupboard. My clothes are almost never new, but they are clean, and I’m grateful to have them.
Even with this attitude of gratitude, like Tim, I find it hard at times not to envy, not to want, not to covet, especially during the holidays. I would love to be able to buy gifts for my kids and my grandchildren. I wish I could afford a haircut or a rug for my kitchen floor that gets so cold. I wish I had living room furniture so that I could set up a tree, and fix up my house…but, you see, the guilt creeps up on me for even typing that I want these things. I know I am so much better off than a lot of people. Heck, I’m better off than I was just a few years back, but it’s hard sometimes. There are so many days I just wish I had enough…enough money for bills, food, for car repairs, not luxury items by any means, but just the security of knowing that I won’t ever have to sleep in a tent again, or go to bed hungry. I think that is the worst part of poverty, the insecurity, never knowing for sure what the next week may bring if hubby misses a few days of work. I would love to know what it is like to live without the worry.
However, on this night, in my modest little house, like Tiny Tim, I will be grateful. I will be happy. I am warm. I am fed. I am laying on a nice soft bed with lots of blankets, and once again, I’m watching A Christmas Carol. Maybe tomorrow I will even dig out a few strings of Christmas lights to hang around the house, and make some soup from the leftover turkey. I am blessed, and I will leave tomorrow in God’s hands…He’s brought me through so many times, I know he’s got this. And as Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, every one”!