Quote of the Day: We are travelers together on the road to the grave. We are not on separate journeys. Fred to his uncle Ebenezer Scrooge, trying to convince him to stop being so selfish and miserly and look at other people as equals.

J.C. Cutler (Ebenezer Scrooge) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, adapted by Crispin Whittell and directed by Joe Chvala with set design by Walt Spangler, costume design by Mathew J. LeFebvre and lighting design by Christopher Akerlind. November 13 – December 29, 2012, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photos by Michael Brosilow

The holidays are a time for traditions. We eat special food, watch favorite movies, decorate, and exchange gifts. We also attend events, church services, performances and make an effort to spend time with people we love. A Christmas Carol has been a tradition at The Guthrie Theater for 38 years. I wonder if anyone out there has attended a performance every year? Are there people who work for the Guthrie who have been part of every production? I know that some of the actors have been in several productions. This year, J.C. Cutler is again playing Ebenezer Scrooge. I think he’s fantastic. He shows us the mean, miserly Scrooge at the beginning who wants to isolate himself and pushes everyone away. He narrates his life for the ghosts, and audience, as they take him through his past, present and future until we see the transformed Scrooge filled with gratitude for life, generosity of spirit, and a need to share his abundance and feel alive.

At the stroke of one, you will be visited by three ghosts.

It doesn’t take long for something to become a tradition. You can start one this year, try it out, if it feels right, do it again next year, and boom, you have a new tradition. This is our second year attending A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie, and I love our new tradation. Last year, I attended it with my four boys. This year, I brought three of the boys (oldest is away at college), my sister Joy, my cousin Angie, and the Biker Chef. We all had a blast. While we were eating at the Level 5 cafe at the Guthrie, Joy asked, “What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?” We got some great answers, the food, the decorations, being with family, the gifts, watching other people open gifts that you gave them. And, now, for me, one of my favorites is attending traditional holiday shows with family and friends. One of my boys just said, “I want to see that play again.” Yay. We have a new tradition.

Joy said she enjoyed this newer version of A Christmas Carol by playwright Crispin Whittell. It brings out elements of the story that she hadn’t seen before and offers some surprises. Last year, was the first time I’d seen the production at the Guthrie and I was mesmerized by all the theatrics. The production team pulls out all the stops for this show using trap doors, zip lines, special effects and dramatic music. Of course, the costumes and set are stunning.

This year, I focused more on the story. Scrooge is a wounded little boy. He felt abandoned and abused as a child and had no fond memories of Christmas, or any other day. The holidays became a time where he was reminded just how alone he is in this world. He represents all the people who dread the holidays, people who are grieving or experiencing any kind of loss. It becomes a day that they just have to get through. It is not a day of love and cheer and happy family togetherness. Like Scrooge, though, we can turn that thinking around. By examining our past, present and future, we can focus on what is good and what can be better if we chose to make it so. Scrooge gets the chance to walk that journey with three spiritual guides who don’t hold back on the realism, showing him this is where you’ve come from, where you are now, and where you’re heading unless you change your selfish ways. You can live in the misery of your past, or you can turn it around, make new traditions and embrace life, yours and the others who are on the the journey to the grave with you.

Scrooge, in his new-found generosity, provides the Christmas feast.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

The girls and I agreed that the best costume was on Mrs. Fezziwig, played with delightful energy by Suzanne Warmanen. The Fezziwig scenes are the most colorful and cheerful, but the boys noted that as the years passed, the celebration became more subdued as Scrooge became more obsessed with his business.

A Christmas Carol is being played at the Wurtele Thrust Stage at the Guthrie Theater through December 29, 2012.

Go. Create. Inspire!
And, start a new tradition.

Journaling Prompt:  Describe a family tradition that you’ve carried over from childhood, or started yourself.