Nearly everyone has seen some version of that well-known Christmas movie featuring Scrooge and Tiny Tim and the three Christmas ghosts — the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present Day, and Christmas Yet to Come — who helped Scrooge find his Christmas Spirit again.
Now, back when Dickens wrote the original story — in 1843 — he felt a lot of justifiable anger about people like Scrooge — rich misers who only cared about making money. And those misers had all sorts of reasons for refusing to give any charity to help the poor, the needy or those (like Tiny Tim) who had to depend upon the charity of others. And if you read the original Dickens story, you will hear some of those excuses, and they were as lame then as they are now.
Today, we don’t suffer as much from the lack of charity by the rich. They pay taxes, and, frankly, most wealthy people do give money to charity. Plus, we would never expect someone like Tiny Tim to have to depend upon voluntary charity to get medical care. So if Dickens were to re-write his story today, I don’t think he would pick “a miser” as the evil villain of the story. That would not ring true in our modern world.
But what would ring true today would be that same coldness we saw in Scrooge’s heart. There were people in need that holiday season, but — to Scrooge — that was “not his problem.” And today, there are people just like Scrooge who ignore the message of Christmas, and tell themselves “It’s not my problem.”
We see all too often that there are families we know where a young son has come out to his parents as gay, and in response, he has been told “You’re not my son.” Or another child who has struggled and finally worked up the courage to tell his parents “I feel I am a girl — like I was born in the wrong body.” And too often, that child will be turned out of the house, and told not to come back until she is ready to live the kind of life her parents think she ought to live.
All too often, such a child is told “We don’t approve of your lifestyle.” As if a child with a heart and soul and spirit — who loves Christmas and remembers many happy times around the tree — is nothing but a “lifestyle.”
As if being true to who you are, and knowing your authentic feelings, and refusing to live a lie or pretend to be someone you are not, is just a “lifestyle” as easily changed as that miserable haircut you got last year, when you went to that new stylist who had no clue.
Now, this Christmas, I wonder…if you were to be visited by one of these famous Christmas ghosts, how would you respond? Would you find kindness and generosity in your heart? Perhaps, one of those Christmas ghosts might show you a young person who is facing challenges and barriers in his life. Maybe a young man who has come out as gay, or a friend from school who is lesbian, or even a teenage girl who has declared herself transgender.
Would you know what to do to help such a young man or woman? What if…one of those guests was a member of your own family? Or a loved one of a family member?
There are places you can go, and people who will help you, where such a young person can get help.
- There is PFLAG — which is “Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays.” There are chapters in many cities, and they are always happy to welcome someone who needs their help and fellowship.
- There are many local LGBT centers across the U.S. They are experienced and well-informed about challenges that young adults — and others — who are LGBT face every day.
- Many colleges and universities in the U.S. have LGBT centers for students, but often those centers are open to working with LGBT youth from the area who are near college age and who might benefit from attending their meetings and networking with students at their school.
By the end of “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge rediscovered the true meaning of Christmas, and he opened his heart — and his pocketbook! — to help Tiny Tim walk again. Could you find that same generosity this year? Or, will you need a visit from one of those Christmas ghosts to show you how to share your love with those in need?
— Holly Maholm is a transgender woman who was born John S. Oney. She began her transition to living full-time as a woman in 2013. She is the author of several stage and screen plays and two novels: “When Once I Lived “ (2011), and “Brave in Ribbons” (November, 2015). She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and is an active member of the local LGBTQ community. For more information, visit hollymaholm.