Friday, December 13, 2013

I Hold Charles Dickens Completely Responsible

Decided to share this again. First published last holiday season.
Since I was a child, I would watch countless adaptations of A Christmas Carol on TV and
in the movies. I've seen variations of the character of Scrooge played by the likes of Alec Guinness, Susan Lucci, Jim Carrey, Vanessa Williams, and Scrooge McDuck. I even read the novel way back, when I was into a Reading the Classics Phase, which is a great phase to be in, frankly. We learn from the masters.
In 25-words or less, A Christmas Carol is a story of a mean, hard-hearted person who hates Christmas and all it stands for i.e. love, charity, and warm fuzzy slippers. On that fateful Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge could have just as easily uttered, "Cripes! It was an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. Someone pass me a Tums." Let's face it, if antacids had been around then, it might have been a different story. 
But being a genius writer, Dickens has Scrooge find his inner self, thanks to an unending supply of colorful and inventive ghosts who are out to show he doesn't have to be the rat-fink he thinks himself to be. It is touch and go for awhile, but kindness and mercy win out. Love of fellowman scores a touchdown. And we, the readers, cheer from the sidelines. Yes, you can be a B&BP (bigger and better person) if only you try.
Taking this story to heart since I was around five-years old, I was convinced it was possible to help change a person's character. Yes, enlighten them as to the good in everyone, help them to see the gentler part of humankind, that which sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and you've got something. Although, according to Lila Hamilton Alvarez, the matriarch of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to accessorize. I should have listened to her.
So, at the ripe old age of 49 and holding, holding, holding, held and strangled, I have come to realize change is not going to happen for some people. They are incapable of change, they don't see the need, or sadly, some people believe they don't deserve happiness, so changing for the better is not an option. For them, a troubled, loveless life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psych 101, folks.
 But because of Charles Dickens, I saw the hope. I saw the possibility. 
Consequently, I spent decades trying to win one or two people over, loving them just a little bit more than the day before, and to hopefully, make them love me. 
Forget it. You can't make anybody do anything. What's the old saying? You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Or was it, you can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think?
But Dickensian lovers, despair not. I am not slamming a man who knew minutely about humanity's strengths and weaknesses. There is a deeper truth in A Christmas Carol, one I failed to see the first few hundred times of viewing or reading. 
The beauty of the character of Ebenezer Scrooge is not that he changed, but that he wanted to change. He wanted to be a B&BP. It was and is the miracle of inner perspective. And Christmas, after all, is the time of miracles. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. And God bless us, everyone.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Welcoming Penny Estelle and The Unwanted Christmas Guest

I remember Penny Estelle's work with great joy. She writes wonderfully upbeat, charming stories. It is a pleasure to welcome her back to This and That. 

Penny, please tell us a little about your newest release, a short story, which is just in time for Christmas!

I can’t tell you how excited I am that my very first ever Christmas story is being released today.  The Unwanted Christmas Guest is a story about Elizabeth McMurphy, an up and coming high powered attorney, who is after vengeance.  Her sights are set on one of the richest and most powerful families in Colorado. Steve York is an obnoxious reporter that thinks the ice queen has gone too far and does all he can to get under her skin.
When one of the worst blizzards in history, hits Colorado and leaves a hurt Steve York, stranded with Elizabeth in a mountain cabin, she must decide to either take care of him, or throw him out to fend for himself.

“What’s going on here? Where the hell are my pants?”
      Elizabeth practically jumped out of her skin. Steve stood in the bedroom doorway, wearing only some tight fitting pink sweats.
“I found you after your car went nose to nose with a tree.” She crossed her arms. “The question is, what were you doing up here in a snowstorm? Were you coming up here to spy on me?”
      “Jesus, my head hurts.” Steve groaned and sat at the kitchen table. “And don’t flatter yourself.” He brought up his hands to rub his eyes and push on his temples. He started to say something when a giggle and a round of undistinguishable sounds caught his attention. Steve stared at the little girl, a whisper of a smile on his pale face. “You have a daughter?”
      She chose to ignore the question. “Again, Mr. York, you were headed…where?”
      “I was going to see some friends in Granby, then on to Steamboat to spend the holidays with my family.”
      “You figured on taking a short cut on Badger Springs Road?”
      “Basically,” he muttered. “I had a phone in my pants pocket…” Steve looked down at the pink sweats. “Yours, I presume?” At her nod, he asked with a smirk, “And you’re the one that took my clothes off?”
      “Junior, my neighbor.”
      “If you’ll allow me to use your phone, I’ll call Triple A and get myself and my car out of your life.” He reached over to Katy and she latched onto his finger, the brightest smile ever illuminating her sweet face.
Elizabeth quickly picked her up, as if he would contaminate her by his touch.  “Phones are out.”
      “How the hell do you live here?” he asked irritably.

* * *

Please find The Unwanted Christmas Guest and my other stories with MuseItUp publishing @

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