Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Carol: Destigmatizing Scrooge

 This last Friday, Grey and I went to see a radio-show performance of "A Christmas Carol."  I'm sure the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his emotional/ethical transformation following his supernatural visits is familiar to all of you, so I won't bore you with retelling it.  What I will say is that seeing the ghost of Jacob Marley as an adult isn't any less frightening than it was as a child.

While watching the performance, I found myself reflecting on Scrooge in a way I wouldn't have considered prior to infertility.  Scrooge is villainized early on for being a miser and curmudgeon, leaving many to wonder why he is so cold.  As Scrooge begins his journey with the spirits, we learn that he had a difficult childhood and the foundation is laid for why he is the person he is today. But this vision is brief and before long the audience is shown that Scrooge made choices too, leading him to his current state. Ultimately, Scrooge is able to make a choice to change his nature, embracing the Christmas spirit.  The audience applauded this happy ending and the auditorium was filled with a sense of knowing that good can prevail as long as you chose to have it be so.  

I didn't walk out of that auditorium with that sense of peace, though.  Frankly, I was a bit sad.  Because for the first time, I could really identify with Scrooge and it angered me that all the blame for who he was was put squarely on him while Dicken's glossed over one very important fact: hardship can break a person and someone neglected of kindness and love will become the only thing they know.

I thought about Scrooge a lot today as I walked around town.  As I watched mothers pushing scrollers with their children, ooing and ahhing at window displays, I felt like an outsider.  Though I'm so grateful for the gift that I currently have in my womb, the knowledge that all of it could be gone in 9 days isn't lost on me.  Because of this and because of this journey, I will forever be an outsider. And as much as society would like me to go hid in the corner, I find it hard not to acknowledge that society is a major part of the problem.

Yes, Scrooge makes some very cold decisions: he threatens to dock Bob Cratchin's pay for taking Christmas off and only allows him that one day to spend with his family.  He treats his only nephew poorly when invited to Christmas dinner.  He stomps around and pouted when Christmas carolers come to his door.  But what Dickens neglects to focus on is how society reinforces Scrooge: he's isolated during his childhood, considered an outsider by his peers.  Though there are happy moments, leading us to believe that not all of his life was filled with hardship, there are moments where we are reminded that the world is a hard place.  In that, Dickens fails to touch on a critical point: villains don't magically arise, they are created.

As the holidays rapidly approach, I find I work daily to confront feelings of bitterness and isolationism.  This year is less hard, as I have an amazing circle of support, both online as well as off.  But I've learned first hand that the world is scared of infertility: there are no easy answers/solutions to our plight and ignorance runs rambit regarding medical intervention.  In short, society would prefer to villainize, casting us in the same light as Scrooge.  And that's just wrong.

Tonight, I'm destigmatizing Scrooge.  Instead of focusing on his miserly ways, I chose to focus on how he became the symbol of kindness and love. Because Scrooge isn't the villain of the story; he's the hero. Just as every single one of you have become my heroes. Your stories, your rants, your humour; they all inspire me to have hope.  Without it, without this community I would be lost.


  1. What a wonderful post! I love how you said "the world is scared of infertility: there are no easy answers/solutions to our plight and ignorance runs rambit regarding medical intervention." Wow, so true. People don't know much about it and so they are quick to judge our choices. It makes them uncomfortable so they don't educate themselves... it's a vicious cycle. I think that no matter how all of us resolve our infertility, we will always be different. That little "Scrooge" inside all of us may always be there...

  2. Just dropping by from ICLW.

    One year ago from your transfer, I had my transfer. I got lucky and gave birth September 19. I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will have success with your cycle.

    Are you planning on POAS? I did! I couldn't wait!

  3. I agree that Scrooge had his reasons and often we overlook them by just bundling his personality into a ball and labeling it as ill humors. He is a product of his upbringing and misfortunes but rarely do we ever take that into consideration when we judge him and others like him. Still if there was mindfulness techniques back then I can say that Scrooge might have learned to have his kindness before the spirits showed him just how bad it could get.

    Yes, infertility changes us. I get surly this time year when I see the shops with all the children and often the parents neglecting them.


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