Don’t be a scrooge

Amal Chatterjee
7 min readNov 28, 2020

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : People say the Christmas season is for caring and sharing but people who care and share do not wait for any season nor should you. Some are outright scrooges who show no empathy for anyone but you ought not to be like them if you have any humanity left in you.

It is the Christmas season so many if not all people decorate their houses and even the garden and trees with Christmas lights that blink and put up a great show in myriads of colors. Inside their home, they put up Christmas trees that they decorate with colorful lights and shiny things because they believe that such decorations bring joy and remind them of the season in a graphic way. They pile up Christmas presents at the base of the tree that they open at a certain time.

But these are the same people who do not like carolers at their gate so chase them away or shut their door to their face so today I thought that I should write about what the spirit of Christmas is. Is it just in the expensive decorations and the tree or is it in your heart that you open up to the poor people who come to your door and sing carols to cheer you up?

There was a tragic case of a very rich man who spent lavishly to decorate his huge house every season but one night the cheap Chinese lights got over heated and burst into flame that soon engulphed his house while his daughter was in her room in the second floor totally unaware of what was happening. When she realized that she was trapped and could not escape the fire that soon reached the second floor, she frantically called for help using her cell phone but it was too late. She was burned to death alive.

Such rich people live in walled communities with security guards at the gate where no outsider is admitted easily because these rich people do not have the real Christmas spirit but want to show off that they can afford to spend great sums of money this way.

I see this sort of people who live here in the community where I live. They pretend to be Christians but are some of the meanest people you can find anywhere but they ask us why we do not put up Christmas lights in our house. Our answer to them is that the spirit of Christmas lies not in lights and decorations but in our heart because my wife never turns away anyone who comes to our gate Christmas or not because she is an angel who has a pure heart full of empathy for the less fortunate.

From what I have observed in many countries where Christmas is celebrated is that not many people follow the teachings of Jesus who said that we should always help those in need not only during this season but always. The outward show of wealth and opulence while ignoring the plight of the poor is sadly seen in people who show no empathy for the fellow beings. Once I was told by someone in India that what the use of wealth is if you do not show it ! I was very much shocked by this comment but kept silent because I could not change the heart of such people no matter how hard I tried. They lacked empathy.

Once an American woman was involved in a road accident when we were in Haiti who was brought to the local hospital. We had met her only once before but late at night a small girl came to our house with a note scribbled on a dirty piece of paper that said that the woman needed our help. We rushed to the hospital to find her in dirty condition so we brought her and her companion home and tried to make them as comfortable as we could. My wife washed their clothes and fed them chicken broth spoon by spoon. The next day we took them to the clinic run by the missionaries to get them x rayed and checked by doctors. I also called their employer to come to our place to pick them up and give them all the medical help they needed.

The American mission women asked us why we helped the women whom we did not know that shocked us more than anything. They were supposed to practice what their religion teaches them but they showed a complete disregard to a person needing help because they did not know her. They lacked empathy. ( Please read my blog called What is Apathy and Empathy here )

Fortunately not all people behave this way. I have met many kind hearted people in many countries who have helped me when they saw that I needed help. Such people strengthen my faith in the basic goodness of the humanity although there will always be the scrooges with stone heart.

Once I was just walking down the street in the evening in the small town in California where I was a student. I was very surprised when a gentleman came out of his house and invited me to share his Thanksgiving dinner with him and his family. This sort of thing rarely happens in any country but it proved that there are so many good people in this world who are genuinely good people and who practice what their faith teaches them.

Source : Google photo of the little match girl

One story of Hans Christian Andersen has particularly impressed me since I was very young so much so that it is engraved in my memory because he wrote about the lack of empathy in the heart of people in so graphic a manner. He wrote that a very small girl in dirty rags and bare feet took shelter in the nook of a porch of a big house because she had nowhere to go and no one gave her shelter from the freezing cold and snow everywhere. She was shivering because she had no warm clothes to protect her from the bitter cold but she had just a match box with a few sticks in it. So she lit one match stick at a time to feel a little warmth until she ran out of the match sticks. The next morning people passing by saw a little girl frozen solid still holding the match box in her tiny hand.

This world is full of little girls and boys who are crying out for help but the bad people kidnap them to sell them to the brothels or as slaves. There are millions of people who are asking for help because they have no home, no food and no one to take care of them. They are the victims of war, of famine or other natural calamities so they ask for help. There are many NGOs that help them and some great musicians have raised a lot of money to help during the famine in Ethiopia but it is never enough because it does not reach in time all the people who are suffering so it becomes a case of too little too late.

There should be no season for caring and sharing because you do not need an excuse like Christmas to show your care and concern. If you have a big heart and have empathy for the poor and the unfortunate people then you do not wait for any excuse. You just help without asking questions.

This is what I like about the Sikhs. They feed you every day in the Golden Temple in Amritsar but they never ask you what is your religion , caste or creed so thousands of people are fed by them every day because they say that it is their religious duty. Many Hindu temples in India also feed people without questions . They also provide free food and lodgings to anyone who needs it in holy places like Rishikesh and Haridwar.

It is said that the best help is the anonymous help because once you start feeling good and take credit for something you have done for others, it diminishes the value of the help you have given. The religious books say that we should not let our left hand know what we give with our right hand meaning we should help anonymously without expecting even a thank you. That is the true spirit of Christmas.

So be generous and help those who need it. Don’t be a scrooge.

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Amal Chatterjee

I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.