No Scrooge in sight

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

On Wednesday, I skipped out on my normal church commitments to attend a Christmas party held by Noah Enterprises, the Virginia Beach-based construction company where my wife works as an administrative assistant.

Noah is one of a dwindling number of businesses that are treating their employees to special holiday functions this year. With the nation officially mired in a recession and unemployment records being set in every new report, many companies are finding it hard to justify the cost of such celebrations to their stockholders. On the other hand, many of us who continue to be employed — especially in the industries hardest hit by the economic crisis — are just thankful we still have jobs, so we’re unlikely to complain over losing the chance to see what the folks in the office look like when they’re half in the bag.

Even so, there’s something to be said for a company that acknowledges the dismal reality of today’s business climate and still chooses to honor its employees and thank them for another year of hard work.

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I got to thinking of this topic last Friday — even before the Christmas party for my wife’s company — when we attended the opening night of the Virginia Stage Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at the beautiful Wells Theatre in Norfolk.

In the scenes prior to his visitation by the various ghostly forms, Ebenezer Scrooge is an archetype of corporate greed gone unchecked. His acquisitive nature serves no purpose but to satisfy itself, yet it proves utterly unsatisfactory in the light of the visions shown him by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

There was a line in this excellent and highly recommended production that particularly struck me, something Scrooge’s nephew said to his family and his friends about his uncle’s greed: “His wealth is of no use to him. He don’t do any good with it.” That line resonates with me at this time of year, and especially after Wednesday’s Christmas party.

As I listened to an account there of the contributions the company and its employees make to the Salvation Army, to troops in Iraq and to other worthy causes, I found myself moved by the commitment they have to making their wealth of some use, to doing good with it, even in the face of hard and uncertain times.

This Christmas, I’m thankful for my job and for many other things, but I especially thank God for people with this kind of faith. They serve as an encouragement and an example to us all.