Ebenezer’s return and the merriest of Christmases

Ebenezer’s return and the merriest of Christmases

At this time of year, back in the long-ago days before the pandemic, my family could always count on a visit from none other than Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

True fans of the Charles Dickens novel, “A Christmas Carol,” which gave birth to the dour, tight-fisted curmudgeon whose name has since become synonymous with obsessive frugality and general cheerlessness, will recall there were actually two Scrooges. Unfortunately, the world tends to most remember the lonely tightwad “Scrooge” at the beginning of the story rather than the joyful, fully enlightened “Uncle Ebenezer” who walked out into the world on Christmas morning filled with the spirit of the season.

Our visits were from the latter of the two as presented by my long-ago seventh-grade science teacher, Don Curie, who has since become a dear friend.

Don has played dozens of roles in the course of his career, but a pair of them have found their way so seamlessly into his persona it’s sometimes difficult to separate the character from the man. One such role was Albert Einstein, of whom Don has become such a dead ringer that he’s actually had folks ask him if he is the real (and long-departed) physicist. Don responds to such questions with great delight in his best Jewish German accent, “Ast real ast you vish me to be!”

Don’s other character-in-real-life is Ebenezer Scrooge — the joy-filled, post-haunting Ebenezer, that is. It was Uncle Ebenezer who would breeze into our living room, bearing good tidings of great joy in the form of a funny story, old photograph or interesting thrift-store find.

So much has been lost in our world at the hands of the pandemic that the simple joy of a visit from a friend may seem a trivial casualty, but Don’s drop-overs (which happened all throughout the year) always meant much more to us than I can adequately describe. My kids grew up seeing a man so filled with creative confidence that he could walk into the world each day in the skin of an entirely different character and make a believer of anyone, all the while spreading joy for joy’s own sake.

Our visits in COVID times have been replaced entirely by correspondence. Don writes weekly, and I should write more. When earlier this fall he penned with great excitement that a theater in which he’d played many roles as a young man was about to stage “A Christmas Carol” as its first production since the start of the epidemic nearly two years ago, I knew instantly what I wanted for Christmas.

Last weekend Kristin and I sat within a row of the stage, just behind our own living, breathing, joy-filled “Uncle Ebenezer” and his wife of 52 years, Emily. The two have long been a model of loyalty and love for us. When, in the shadow of the footlights, I happened to catch a glimpse of their hands clasped together just as our own, I was grateful for the mask that caught the tear before it could run down my cheek.

Overwhelmed with thanks for the moment, I echoed the closing line of the play as spoken by the character Tiny Tim: “A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!”

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at jlorson@alonovus.com.