Was Scrooge a villain or a visionary?
Let’s talk about Christmas, shall we? And excuse me whilst I channel my inner Scrooge. From now on my name shall be Mario “Ebenezer Scrooge” López-Goicoechea. I bet you anything that the first comment left in the box below tonight will be “Bah, humbug”. Well, bah-humbug back to you, my friend!
When does Christmas really start? Is it when mince pies go on sale, or perhaps when my weekend papers begin to assault my senses with endless John Lewis, PC World/Currys and M&S A5 catalogues? How about when the lights of your town centre are switched on?
Let’s talk about Christmas indeed. More specifically about our modern notion of the birth of one of the most important figures in the history of mankind: Santa Claus.
Despite my previous words, I do not despise Christmas. But, not having been brought up with the tradition (we used to celebrate Christmas’ Eve back home. However, even that was hush-hush as Fidel’s government clamped down on all things religious), I find myself at a loss over what is considered proper Crimbo etiquette. What I have noticed is that there is an unhealthy commodification around this yearly celebration.
That is why I think that Scrooge was on to something. Charles Dickens gave us a visionary in Ebenezer. A prophet who saw the shape of future Christmas to come. Or at least the ghost of them.
Scrooge has always been accused of being tight-fisted. Yet what he really represented was the resistance to the market forces that were already making themselves felt in Victorian Britain. He was thrift versus future profligacy. He got labelled (undeservedly in my opinion) a miser. How unfair, I say! All he was doing was alerting the world to the Wongas of the noughties. The payday loan companies whose annual interest rates can reach up to 5,000%.
True, Scrooge lost his fiancée Belle. His critics blame his procrastination. He wanted to hit the jackpot before saying “I do”. But what man does not want to provide for his beloved? Especially in those pre-feminism years when women still did not have the vote and marriage was just another way to keep them down? Have you not ever seen the men who post-winter-solstice and pre-Christmas shindig, wander…