Mindy's Musings: Scrooging for Christmas

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A Christmas Carol. Not another Christmas story.

After three months of waiting, it's finally December. I'm excited, because Christmas is one of my favorite holidays ever.

My mother likes to go mall-hopping on her days-off to shop for gifts when this month rolls around. There are a lot of sales this time of year, aren't there? I like to shop, too, but nothing beats listening to Christmas stories and watching Christmas musicals. So when I heard that Repertory Philippines (REP) was going to stage “A Christmas Carol,” I got really excited because it was one of my favorite bedtime stories—holiday season or not—when I was a kid.

A ghost story for the holidays

“A Christmas Carol” is based on a story by Charles Dickens, called “A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.” It centers on Ebenezer Scrooge, an ill-tempered man who cares more about money than friendship, love or the welfare of his neighbors.

He is visited by three ghosts during the night, who each try to make him change his miserly ways by showing him his Christmas past, present and future, which are far from bright and cheery.

The musical has had many versions, but REP's year-end production is based on the one by Lynn Ahrens and Alan Menken, who is also behind the songs in the Disney films Aladdin and Little Mermaid.

The play will run at Onstage Greenbelt One, Makati City from November 14 to December 14. It features a talented cast—TV host JM Rodriguez and Felix Rivera alternate in the role of Scrooge, Christine Escudero and Cara Barredo play the young Scrooge's lost love, Jejie Esguerra is Mr. Crachit and Anna Santamaria takes on the role of Mrs. Cratchit. The Cratchit's crippled son with a pure heart is played by Matthew Esteva and Ethan Paras.

No Humbugs, please

Have you ever felt like Scrooge has? Hating Christmas, thinking it doesn't have any meaning at all? I don't think I could ever say “Humbug!” to anything related to this season. More than the beauty of all the decorations adorning buildings, churches and houses, it's the way people treat each other.

Is it true that people generally become nicer in December? I don't know about you, but it certainly feels like it to me sometimes. But there are always people like Ebenezer Scrooge was at first in Dickens' story, preferring to dwell in his empty house alone, counting coins.

If the three ghosts of Christmas hadn't come to make Scrooge see what other people went through during Christmas, if the ghosts hadn't made him remember what he was like when he was young and believed in the magic of the season, he would have ended up like his business partner Jacob Marley. When Marley died, he was cursed to walk the earth in chains, unseen by everyone.

But while Marley was cursed, he still thought of his friend, and helped him to get a second chance by allowing the ghosts of Christmas to guide Scrooge. Maybe Marley got his own redemption after Scrooge got his. After all, he did help get one less person off the cursed-to-walk-the-earth-in-chains-list. In the process he helped others, including the Cratchits, get a way better Christmas than they would have gotten if Scrooge hadn't changed.

After Scrooge changed, you see, he not only helped the Cratchits get a wonderful holiday dinner, he also donated money to the local charities. He became a regular do-gooder, and began to believe again in the spirit of Christmas like he used to when he was a child.

Instead of a turkey...

Have you helped anyone have a better Christmas this year? Ebenezer Scrooge gave the Cratchits the largest turkey in the butcher shop to cheer them up. Turkeys aren't traditionally eaten for Christmas in the Philippines, so why not consider giving your friends other kinds of traditional Filipino Christmas food for Noche Buena?

There's lechon, queso de bola, hamon, roast chicken, barbecued meat and pancit. According to WikiPilipinas, other food served during Christmas in the Philippines include bibingka, which is usually sold outside churches during Misa de Gallo, or Simbang Gabi.

There's also turrones, which a nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar and egg white, coated in crushed, toasted almonds, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. Variations of this dessert include yema and marzipan.

Other desserts popular during Christmas time include ube and tsokolate, the Filipino variation of hot chocolate.

Are you in the spirit of giving yet? Or have I just gotten you hungry?

Let me know what you're going to do for others this Christmas! Email me at mindy@wikipilipinas.org.ph. More musings next week!

See Mindy's column archive