Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.
And so begins the classic, "A Christmas Carol", written by Charles Dickens in the merry old year of 1843, and still read by millions today.
It is a tradition in our house to gather up the kids every Christmas season, and head to a local theater in town, where we sit back and take in all of the magic that is "A Christmas Carol."
The kids have always looked forward to this, and time is spent in the car on the way to the theater, discussing and anticipating what this year's production will be like.
Many "I wonder if....?" and much "I hope they..." is heard in the car, as we try to guess how the show will be staged and directed for our enjoyment. There's also much, "Remember when they...?" as we reminisce about previous productions.
Kansas City has been blessed with an outstanding local actor, Gary Neal Johnson, who has portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge for as long as we can all remember. In fact, Gary Neal Johnson IS Scrooge in our hearts and minds, and none of us can fathom any one else even attempting to take his place as the crusty old curmedgeon.
Gary Neal Johnson, as Scrooge, as he meets up with Marley's ghost
Our youngest daughter (who is now 11 years old) first went to see this play when she was 5. I had forewarned her of the (sometimes sudden) appearances of the spirits, so she wouldn't freak out during the show if something caught her off-guard.
But I guess I neglected to warn her of one particular scene, which resulted in a bit of embarrassment on our part.
There is a scene when the young Scrooge meets his future fiance, Belle, and he gives her a kiss. During this most intimate of scenes, in a very quiet theater, my daughter lets her displeasure of the kiss (as most 5-year olds will be) be known.
"EWWWWWWWW!" She said, very loudly...and the theater erupted in laughter.
Um....that was not a comedic scene, but leave it to my child to turn it into one. And this story has now become part of our family folklore.
"Remember when I didn't like the kiss?" she'll say in the car, as we head to the theater. And the story gets told for the hundredth-millionth time.
This year, through fate, karma, and a bit of luck, we actually scored tickets to the Christmas Eve production.
To enjoy the story of Scrooge's miraculous transformation on the most-holy nights of Christmas Eve was truly magical. The story hit home - just that much more - and it was almost solemn as we walked out of the theater and into the dark on Christmas Eve night...all of us thinking of Scrooge and his change of heart.
And I'm sure in the future, we'll hear the kids say, "Remember when we saw it on Christmas Eve?"
Traditions. Memories. Isn't that what sometimes makes Christmas what it is?
God bless us...everyone.