On December 24 2011, in the midst of a crowded house and overwhelming Christmas I downloaded at the suggestion of internet wunderkind Andy Ihnatko, the Audible edition of Patrick Stewart reading A Christmas Carol.
As a kid and later a teenager, the book, the George C. Scott version, and my high school’s production moved and captivated me. I wanted to renew that story’s power for myself, experience it as I had in younger days, and feel some of the thrill again that I had found in the American Christmas Carol (It’s A Wonderful Life) each time I watched it as an adult.
I wanted the pure stuff, the great language of Dickens, no motion-captured Jim Carrey for this guy. And so while driving my two year old son around the neighborhood for naps I listened to Patrick Stewart commandingly deliver the goods. I’ve listened to it by myself every year since 2011 and there isn’t a year where the 14 year old in me isn’t cheering inside my heart at the end about Scrooge’s miraculous transformation.
“I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”
The idea of transformation, of waking up and shaking off the clutter of the years past so that we can leave some of our damaging self-obsession behind and realign ourselves with connecting with friends, family, and you know, HUMANS and helping them with this life is intoxicating to me. It’s why I keep recharging my batteries with Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey’s stories every season.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
Now will keeping a tidy linen closet allow you to keep Christmas well? Will organizing and creating unique passwords with the essential Mac app cause you to be “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew”?
Well at first, glance, no, of course not. But with deeper examination, a resounding yes. Follow me here:
The objective of organizing whether physical or digital is not to present a space so sparse and sparkling that Martha swoops down from the Heavens for a photo shoot. No, the objective of organizing and (benefits too!) are
- Re-examine and gain awareness of the stuff in our lives.
- Evaluate and then clear away that which isn’t essential or bringing us joy.
- Live in a space physically and mentally that gives us clarity to do the work that matters and the time and reduced stress to be present and enjoy our friends and family.
Part of this is the idea of organizing as a practice, that if we can learn these kinds of lessons while focusing on our garage for a day it will then be infectious and informative enough to carry to other parts of our lives.
And with the clutter removed, we see things a new like a baby, we truly appreciate that which remains and still serves us and others.
As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye.
“I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand. “I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest expression it has in its face! It’s a wonderful knocker!
What about you? What holiday traditions do you keep for yourself so that you may keep it going in your old own good city?