There are many reasons that Dickens' story of Scrooge and his three uninvited guests has remained firmly planted in the heart of our culture. One of them has to be the acknowledgment of the spirits that surround us this time of year.
Perhaps it's because this season has so many overtly sensual triggers: the scent of pine or Douglas fir or cinnamon; the sound of bells or carolers or the crunch of snow; the taste of cranberries or fruitcake or indeed eggnog with brandy; the touch of ribbons or ice or pine needles; the sight of Jimmy Stewart holding Zuzu or three year old angels or a church full of congregants raising lit candles.
Some spirits that visit us are not always welcome, nor wanted. Some are wonderful. But whether it is the comforting memory of a grandmother's kitchen or a loved one who is no longer around, or a painful reminder of a rough holiday - we can be like Scrooge and learn from them.
At the end of "A Christmas Carol", the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Scrooge a sobering visage of a town that delights in the death of Scrooge, and his own tombstone. Scrooge's reply is an impassioned one: "Spirit, hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am beyond hope?...Assure me that I yet may change these shadows that you have shown me, by an altered life.... I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me."
If the Spirits come, let them. Learn from them. Relegate the Painful ones to the Past, enjoy the Pleasant ones in the Present, and allow the TRUE Spirit to guide your future.
God Bless Us, Everyone.