Thursday, December 19, 2013

He's No Scrooge

He stands on the stage, and adjusts his top hat. With one hand clutching the curved top of the plastic cane, he pulls at his collar and swallows hard. The overhead lights are bright and he squints, staring out at the crowd as he waits for his turn to sing. We've worked on his lines, trying to remember to slow down and speak clearly, enunciating each word, whether it's his monologue about the criminality of the Christmas season or his solo following the visit of the ghostly Jacob Marley.  As much as he might try, he's too kind-hearted and soft-spoken to be a true Scrooge, but he grimaces all the same, whether from nerves or in an attempt to fit the part. On cue he opens his mouth and he sings out his signature line, "Bah-humbug!" No one is more surprised than me at the sweet, strong voice that fills the gym.

While the imagery of a frozen London with its snow-laden roofs and ice-crusted windowpanes is the traditional reflection of Scrooge's icy countenance, my heart warms as I watch my boy. His ruby-colored dressing gown is four sizes too big and even though I rolled up and pinned the sleeves, his hands are lost in the folds of fabric. He stands to one side, watching the party-goers at Mr. Fezziwig's party as they dance and twirl, busy fiddling with his cane and shuffling his feet, possibly a bit distracted by the bustling activity off-stage. At the next scene, he stumbles back upon seeing his own tomb stone and breaks into song (with a break in his voice at the high notes), promising to change, promising to honor Christmas in his heart. Authentic relief floods his features as he reaches the final song, the same relief Scrooge must feel when he discovers that it's Christmas morning and he has the opportunity "to live to be another man from what he was". My boy grins at the applause and when he's introduced, there's a touch of awkwardness as he bows his tall frame. After changing back into his jeans and t-shirt, Aaron stands a little taller, a little more proudly, listening to the praise of his friends and family. He's back to being just Aaron. But a tad bit changed after this experience, more responsible, more aware of the work involved in a role of this size and amazed at the satisfaction he feels for a job well done.

A Christmas Carol is familiar to us all and while this tale of redemption has been played out before our eyes in a variety of ways, the story stays the same. Whether Bob Crachit is played by Kermit the Frog or whether it's Bill Murray goofing his way along as Scrooge, Charles Dickens' words continue to shine through, ringing true down through the ages, as powerful today as the first time they were spoken 170 years ago on December 17, 1843, at its debut public production. They are words to be remembered, no matter who speaks them, be it Jim Henson or my Aaron-Boy.

As we enter the final week of this advent season, it's fitting to offer a final prayer, just as Tiny Tim squeaks at the end of the show. "God bless us, everyone." And that includes you.

For those of you interested in seeing the full performance, here's the link: A Dickens of a Christmas.


Inspired by this picture...and my boy.