St. Nicholas’ feast day (December 6th) was very special at St. Mary’s Home. We were greeted with the unexpected surprise of finding treat-fill stockings hung on each of our door knobs. Then after breakfast, several of us headed out to the Wilmette Theater for a unique presentation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale of A Christmas Carol.
Once we got settled in our seats, our host took us on a trip back in time to Victorian England to explore the cultural and historical climate that influenced the creation of one of the most cherished Christmas stories of all time.
Most of us knew the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and how his midnight visit by Jacob Marley’s spirit and the three Christmas ghosts – Past, Present and Yet to Come – impacted his life. But most of us did not know that Dickens was also poor and experienced that stigma. He empathized with the unemployed, underemployed and vulnerable children. He wanted to change the status quo and lift people out of the mire to which they were consigned. He challenged his society through his provocative writing.
A contemporary of Dickens, Jeanne Jugan was also deeply affected by the condition of the poor in her community – she of course had an affinity for the elderly poor. She too did something to remedy this terrible situation. After Dickens met Jeanne Jugan, he noted that “there is in this woman something so calm, and so holy, that in seeing her I know myself to be in the presence of a superior being. Her words went straight to my heart, so that my eyes, I know not how, filled with tears.”
The legacy of both of their lives’ reminds us of the true spirit of Christmas. They both inspire hope and nudge us to have compassion for those who are less fortunate, especially during this holy time of year.
After the presentation, we went to Baker’s Square for lunch – and yes, we ate pie! We had a lot to talk about during lunch as we discussed our impressions and what we learned about this time. We all agreed that the next time we see A Christmas Carol we will view it in a whole new light.
Photo:The “three amigas” – Frances Thomas, Julietta Rodenas and Helen Linzer.