Originally created 12/15/03

Christmas ghosts pass on figgy pudding



Bob Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. As dead as a door-nail. Still, his ghost lived on in his music, thought Ebenezer Scrooge as he sat in front of the fire and listened to the Jamaican's CD.

This was the first time Old Ebenezer had actually enjoyed Marley's music - or anybody's music, for that matter. The CD had been a gift from Tiny Tim, who was Scrooge's new delight. Who would have ever thought it: Ebenezer Scrooge, listening to reggae!

Yes, he was a changed man. The ghosts of Christmas had seen to that, yielding such a reformation that he was no longer the person people always thought of when they heard the word "Scrooge."

After his transformation, he had sent a huge turkey to his employee Cratchit's house. He had given Cratchit a long-overdue raise and promised Tiny Tim the medical care he needed.

Now, it was time for the final glorious chore of this Christmas Day. His nephew Fred had invited him for Christmas dinner. Scrooge arrived, and was promptly invited to sit at the table.

Scrooge looked at the food and was bewildered. There was a turkey, to be sure, and a ham. But he saw no bread, no potatoes, no rice, no pasta.

"A fine uncle I have been!" Scrooge exclaimed. "My nephew has fallen on hard times and cannot even provide an entire meal. I have neglected you all."

Fred only laughed.

"Oh, no, Uncle," he said. "We are wanting for nothing."

Seeing Scrooge's startled face, his niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as Fred.

"It's the carbohydrates, uncle," she hastened to explain. "You see, we were all getting a little plump, and so we have given up carbohydrates."

Scrooge, thin from years of careful spending, was aghast.

"But child, there is little left if you do not round out a meal with those filling victuals. What, pray tell, do you eat?"

"You see it around you, Uncle," Fred said. "We have poultry, and ham and pork."

"Yes," said the niece, "and we have bacon and eggs for breakfast, and snack on fried pork rinds and beef jerky. Remember, potatoes are the devil and bread is a contagion, or the other way around, I don't remember."

Scrooge stood up and surveyed the table.

"I've always heard that a lot of meat is bad for the body," he said. "The heart, the arteries, the colon. My doctor has made me eat whole grains, rice and bread as part of a healthful diet. And they are inexpensive, I might add. But now you tell me otherwise?"

"Uncle, get with the program," Fred said. "It's better to look good on the outside than to be 100 percent healthy within."

"But what of desserts?" Ebenezer wondered aloud. "I see no cakes here, nor Christmas pies, nor candy. Have you lost your taste for these as well?"

"Yes, and you'd be surprised how easy it was to give them up," his niece said. "But you are our guest, so let me pour a packet of sugar substitute over some Slim Jims for your dessert, Uncle."

"No, no, I cannot," Scrooge said, backing away from the table. He grabbed his coat and rushed out into the cold.

As he stumbled down the street, Scrooge noticed in the shop window that the price of eggs and meat were higher than he remembered. No doubt others were obsessed with the same diet. It made no sense.

He trudged back home and slumped into his chair. Disgusted, he even threw his Bob Marley CD into the fire. It had been wrong to become a part of the modern world, after all. Pork rinds are good? Potatoes are bad?

"Bah!" Scrooge said. "And humbug!"

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.