Bah, Humbug!

If Ebenezer Scrooge was famous for anything (other than deciding to spread goodwill on Christmas instead of alerting the world to ghosts being real), it was for his two word summary of the season:

Bah, Humbug!

For the longest time, I thought this meant “nonsense” or “balderdash”, in the sense that Scrooge thought Christmas was a foolish triviality. It was later on life, (around the time I finally realized that “Ebenezer Scrooge” and “Scrooge McDuck” were not, in fact, the exact same character) that I was told that the word “Humbug” actually means a deception or trick.

He was accusing the man not of being gullible, but of being manipulative. Perhaps it’s my personal interpretation, but I believe this nuance is the heart of the story and a key to understanding the human predicament of “perspective”. Before this clarification, I thought Scrooge was just a man who forgot the significance of other people and looked down at the foolish idealists around him. With this new definition, it occurred to me that he actually had crafted such a corrupt perspective on the world, that it was a new place entirely. A dark, cynical place full of people driven by self-interest and out to separate a dollar from its owner (or pound as the case may be). He lived in a whole world of Scrooges where he was just one among many.

It’s easy to grow out of wreaths, trees, and Santa. Apathy for carols and Christmas can grow over the years, and I am sure everyone has a moment of “Bah, Humbug!” when you see the Christmas aisle going up before Halloween (It’s probably starting on the 5th of July next year!). But, don’t mistake this red and green decorated world for a different one entirely. You’ve spent a year of time from a very limited hoard. At least take a moment to ensure good return on investment.

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Erik Ralston

I am a web & mobile developer in Richland, working at Flex Rental Solutions building mobile apps for roadies, and otherwise trying to take over the world one app at a time. I am the organizer for Tri-Cities Startup Weekend, Mobile Makers Tri-Cities, event coordinator for Room to Think, and all-around enemy of social entropy in the community.

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