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The holiday season is upon us. Along with the joys of celebrations and gift-giving is the reality that many folks aren’t doing so well, financially or spiritually.

In the story “A Christmas Carol,” Bob Cratchit – who works for Scrooge – has a physically challenged son and is poor, but his family’s love for each other buoys them above their limitations.

Scrooge, the main character in the story, changes from a mean, selfish ogre into a kind, generous man through his experiences during visitations from spirits.

Was Scrooge touched by the Holy Spirit, as my religious friends would say? Is the Scrooge scenario included in William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experiences”?

Was Scrooge just dreaming, and if so, would Freud’s interpretation of these dreams be based on Scrooge’s sense of guilt?

Whatever the analyses of Scrooge’s metamorphosis into a decent, compassionate person, the story gives us hope that people can change for the better and their kind acts be appreciated.  

 A couple of weeks ago on a very cold day, a library patron and I rode down together on the elevator to the main floor.

During our descent, the patron – a woman – and I mentioned how cold it was outside.

I then said I was concerned about a woman I had observed upstairs wearing only a short-sleeved, mid-thigh top.

The woman in the elevator said that she, too, had observed this woman and was concerned. She thought the woman might be homeless because the woman had a comforter or sleeping bag with her.

I said I wanted to offer to get the scantily dressed woman some warmer clothing but was afraid the woman would be insulted and get angry, so I didn’t approach her.

When the elevator reached the main floor and my elevator-mate and I exited the building together, she told me that she was currently living in a shelter and that maybe she would go back into the library, locate the scantily dressed woman and tell her about the shelter.

I again voiced my nervousness about saying something to the homeless(?) woman, but my elevator-mate said she was going to go talk to the woman anyway. “All she can do is curse me out.”

With that, she went back into the library to find the woman. “Bless her heart,” my mom’s friend would say.

I stood a couple of minutes outside the library doors, reflecting on my elevator-mate’s kind and courageous attitude.

Maybe in the future I’d be brave enough to do the same thing if the occasion arose, I thought.

‘Tis the season to think of others!

And as the physically challenged Tiny Tim says in “A Christmas Carol,” “God bless us everyone!”


Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...