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God bless us every one this Christmas

When you’re welcoming guests, preparing to dine or enjoying a convivial drink this Christmas spare a moment to think of Charles Dickens’s inspired story set in the festive season and the qualities, both good and bad, it shows in all of us.

His prophetic sayings, uttered from the mouths of ghosts and the poor and disadvantaged as they appeared before Ebenezer Scrooge, remind us of just what the season means, how we should respond to it and what we can lose by ignoring its messages.

Bob Crachit’s young son, Tiny Tim is very ill in the story and is crippled. Although facing death he is a very happy boy and is very much loved by his parents. His illness would be easily cured with the right money that Cratchit’s low wage from Scrooge cannot provide. When Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Present he sees just how ill Tim really is. When visited by The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come all he sees of Tim is his crutch, reminding him that Tim will die without his help.

‘No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused,’ says the chained Jacob Marley, Yet such was I! Oh such was I!’

`But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge…

`Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands. `Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!’

Knowing he could prevent Tim’s death the reformed Scrooge puts things right at the end of the story, but not before his miserable failings have been pointed out to him. We would all do well to look over our shoulders this Christmas, as the ghosts from the past, present and future remind us of who we are and how we can better deal in the common welfare.

As Tiny Tim said: `God bless us every one,’ this Christmas.

Chris Wood is resident composer with Guest House Opera and editor of Epsom, Sutton and Cheam Time & Leisure.