A reader took issue with last week’s column, saying I should have used Ebenezer Scrooge’s photo instead of my own.

I did not intend to be critical of everyone who benefits from Christmas charity, only those who seemingly never try to improve their lot in life.

The Scrooge reference reminded me of the memorable phrase, “God bless us, everyone”, first uttered as a Christmas dinner blessing by Tiny Tim and then repeated by a repentant Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

To me, those words embody the true meaning of the joyous holiday we will celebrate next week. And it should inspire all of us to keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year long.

Dickens used the possibility of young Tiny Tim’s death as a psychological weapon against the miserly Scrooge who didn’t pay Bob Cratchit enough to get medical treatment for his crippled son.

Guilt can be a powerful motivator for doing the right thing and that’s apparently what drove ole Ebenezer to change his ways and become like a second father to Tiny Tim and the Cratchits.

This Christmas will bring us another helping of wonderful examples of how we Americans are the most generous folks on earth, giving copiously of our time and treasure to help others.

Charities learned long ago that fund raising appeals in the Christmas season, particularly for ill or mistreated children, are more effective than at other times of the year. Coming at the end of the tax year doesn’t hurt, either. The relatively new but effective giving technique employed Post by the so-called “check-out angels” is one of my favorites. They pick up the tab for layaways and/or other purchases by low income families.

I can’t imagine a more appreciated gift by those beleaguered families who must buy on credit and spend the next year paying for Christmas.

In closing, here’s a saying to help us keep the right attitude about this wondrous season.

“Christmas begins with Christ.”

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com or by telephone at 356-0912.

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