Celebration Revolution of Alexander Scrooge

VIDEO | BLOG Post | PODCAST Series, Episode 11

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The Celebration Revolution
of Alexander Scrooge

A Modern "Christmas Carol"

(with apologies to Charles Dickens)

This file contains the complete Video Script and the Study Guide

This script originally accompanied a filmstrip and cassette tape. It has been converted to DVD.

Executive Producer, Bob Kochtitzky, founder of Alternatives

If you decide to perform this play, download the text below and make copies for your players. You do not need written permission. Be sure to keep the credit at the end and to include it in the printed program if you have one. Thanks.

Leader's Guide to:
The Celebration Revolution of Alexander Scrooge

What's in a name? Well in the case of the people sponsoring this video, the name says it all: Alternatives! As you view The Celebration Revolution... you might just discover that some of their alternatives will fit into your lifestyle.



A pattern exists in our society -- a pattern of ever-increasing consumption, of buying more and more, of having more and more. This "gimme, gimme" way of living, intentionally encouraged by the advertising/business system, is often the very standard which we use to judge our success as a human being. Indeed, it is so much a part of our lives that we may not even recognize it; and, if we do, we may not see the effect it has on others and on the Earth. After all (the thinking goes) having things is fun -- right? Well, slowly but steadily a growing number of people are questioning that. They are breaking out of a lifestyle built around excess.

People are choosing a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity. Voluntary simplicity means choosing -- you choosing -- of your own free will, to pursue a lifestyle which simplifies things. It begins with the recognition that we are part of God's creation. As part of that creation, we have an obligation to be more caring of the rest of God's world, of the whole earth and all its inhabitants.

Alternatives is an organization dedicated to helping people move out of the over-consumption cycle into the liberating lifestyle described above and in the video. People are developing a new appreciation for the people around them and for the Earth. The video you are about to view explains in a fanciful sort of way how Alternatives can help people change.

Most of us can identify in one way or another with Alexander Scrooge, our hero. (Or is he the victim?) The ways Alex and we celebrate those many special events common to us all are pretty well ritualized. Gifts are wrapped up with more than fancy ribbons. There are all kinds of expectations wrapped around our celebrations as well. ("But I've got to give her something more than that. After all, last year, she gave me.... " Or how about, "Can you imagine what he'd think of me if I gave him....")

How we celebrate reflects who we are. How we celebrate identifies the values we hold dear. Take just a moment to think about these two statements. Celebrations cause us to show our true colors. For example, I may say I don't like this gluttonous lifestyle I'm living, but unless I make the decision to live differently -- and do it -- then, nothing has really changed for me. And remember, there is an alternative. The message of this video is, "We can change, if we really want to!"


Preparing to Show the Video

There are three essential elements for any program built around audiovisual aids. First is prior preparation; second, the presentation; third, the group's response to the presentation. The last two depend on the first. The best way to prepare for a showing is to have a rehearsal. Take everything you will need to the room where you will be showing the video. The first thing you'll learn at the rehearsal is if you've forgotten something. How about the extension cord? Do you need a table for the projector? How about a cassette player for the audio? Is it loud enough to hear when the projector is running? Does it need new batteries? As you rehearse, you'll probably think of a dozen similar questions.

Preferably you should hold your rehearsal at the same time of the day as your actual presentation. If it is during the daylight hours, you will be able to tell if the room can be darkened enough to see the video clearly. And do not forget those "what-if" questions. What if the projector bulb burns out? Is there a spare? Do you know how to change the bulb? What if a fuse blows? Do you know where the fuse box is? Is there someone who does?

If you cannot get a rehearsal in, work it out in your mind, going through the program step by step. The key is to anticipate all your needs.

The rehearsal also gives you a chance to preview the video. This is a must. Look at the video and listen with an eye (and an ear) to what will precede and follow it. What is the best way to introduce it? You must also consider the best ways to draw out the audience's reaction to it. This guide provides several discussion questions designed to help your group focus in on the issues. You may use these questions or you may come up with your own ideas to draw out the group's response.



It is not enough simply to view The Celebration Revolution.... Like most audiovisuals, it is merely a tool designed to start folks thinking. Your job is to pick up where the video leaves off.

First, you must assess your goals and your audience. The Celebration Revolution... can be used very nicely as an educational tool to increase people's awareness of their patterns of celebration. To some the notion of overconsumption may be new or threatening. For these people, the video provides a clear explanation of what we mean when we talk about the pattern of overconsumption in our society. For others, people who have already made the decision to simplify their lifestyles, the video can clarify some feelings they may have as well as help focus their thinking about possible concrete responses to their decision. Which is your audience? What do you hope to accomplish by presenting and discussing The Celebration Revolution of Alexander Scrooge?

One way to get into the discussion of the video might be to ask people to recall one gift they received which meant a great deal to them. They might also think about a gift which they gave that they felt especially good about giving. By the same token, practically everyone has gotten a gift which they considered a real "clunker." It might be interesting to have some members of the group share some of these memories and to explain why they did or did not appreciate the gift they are telling about.

--Ask the group to summarize the story of the video. What are some of the issues raised? How much of the problem of wasteful consumption is personal and how much is caused by the system? What is the most important point of the video?

--Gift-giving is sometimes a strange thing. Ask the group to define the word "gift." A gift is for the recipient, but in actuality, often a gift is more a reflection of the giver than the receiver. Often the giver has more expectations about a gift than the receiver. Is this true in your experience? Discuss why you feel it is or is not true. Ask people in the group to share their thinking process as they come up with a gift idea for someone close to them. Do people spend a lot of time thinking about "the right gift" for someone? What factors do you consider when giving a gift? For example, what role does the cost of the gift play in the decision? Usefulness? Is it reflection of you?

--Spend some time thinking about your gift giving over the years. Has it changed? If it has changed, how has it changed? Why do you think it has or has not?

--When you think about it, gifts are really symbols which you, the giver, offer to another person. It is a symbol of your feelings for that person. How does this notion square with your own thoughts and experience? Perhaps there is more being symbolized than affection. What else may have become a part of the symbolism of gifts?

--Suppose for a moment that you have no money for gifts. Think of a person who is important to you. Come up with a gift idea for this person. Remember you have no money. Perhaps you can imagine that you are in the Depression or that you have fallen on "hard times." Once you have chosen your "hard times" gift, discuss what things you considered as you decided what to offer as your gift. List as many of the pieces of your decision as possible. Also ask yourself how you would feel giving such a gift. Why? Can you give the gift you've selected anyway, whether you have money or not? Why or why not?

--Did you ever feel embarrassed about a gift you gave because it was too lavish? Did you ever feel a gift you gave was too insignificant? Why?

--Did you ever receive a gift that embarrassed you for any of the reasons above?

--What expectations do you have about birthdays, religious celebrations and other holidays?

--What about funerals? Do you have trouble considering them celebrations? What expectations do you have about the funerals of persons close to you? Winston Churchill planned his own funeral. (The plans were called, "Operation Hope-Not.") Can you get in touch with your own funeral? What requests would you want to make of those "taking care of the arrangements"?

--What about weddings? What expectations do you have regarding the wedding you attend? What about the gifts given for weddings? What do you consider appropriate or inappropriate? Why?

--To what extent does our manner of celebrating reflect the way in which we live?

--The video raises some moral questions about the way we celebrate. What are some of those moral questions? How do you deal with these issues in your own life?

--Imagine that you ask your family to change their style of family celebrations. Would family members be willing to change? Would you be willing to change? Why?

--Probably one of the most important ideas presented in the video comes when the Spirit of Celebrations-Yet-to-Come says, "You have been trapped in a system of over-consumption -- not just in your celebrations, but in your whole lifestyle. The system demands that you buy and use and throw away as much as you can, as fast as you can. But you can break free!" What do you make of the phrase, "system of over-consumption"? Is it a pattern that you are familiar with? Do you agree with the description of what the system would be more responsible? Would that system look anything like the cooperative movement (food, craft, housing co-ops, for example)?

--To what extent do you feel your own lifestyle and/or style of celebrating is shaped by the advertising which greets you in every paper, magazine, radio, and television program? How can you counteract this pressure?

--Spend some time in the discussion period to explore what concrete things you might do to regain the meaning of various celebrations such as Christmas, Independence Day, weddings, birthdays, etc.

--Consider gift-giving. What alternate sorts of gifts could you give that would reflect a simpler, yet more meaningful expression of you, the giver? Explore with the group the notion of giving "time." It's a commodity that everyone seems to have less and less of. What about simply offering an allotment of you time to someone close to you as a gift? How about offering your services or talents as a gift? You might consider presenting these gifts in the form of a coupon or "gift certificate" which you have created yourself. What other forms of alternative gifts might you offer? (There are many resources available to help you discover alternative gifts. "To Celebrate," the Alternate Celebrations Catalogue, 6th edition, is a primary source.)

[Technical notes: Numbers are frame numbers, followed by description of the frame. CU=close up.]

The Celebration Revolution
of Alexander Scrooge

By George Koehler

The Script


1. Ebenezer Scrooge, top hat, early 19th century dress.

NARRATOR: You remember, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge -- that crotchety old tightwad who didn't believe in Christmas

EBENEZER: Bah! Humbug!


2. Ebenezer, smiling, waving.

NARRATOR: And you remember how his fearful encounter with the three Spirits transformed him in one night to the merriest and most generous keeper of Christmas in all of England.

EBENEZER: Merry Christmas to all!

NARRATOR: Ebenezer Scrooge was a very last learner.


3. Mother, father, baby.

NARRATOR: But did you know that after his change of heart old Scrooge was married. The happy couple had a son, who later immigrated to the United States. And this son had a son, who had a son, who had a son...


4. CU of Alexander Scrooge.

NARRATOR: ...Alexander Scrooge...

ALEX. Uh ... hi!

NARRATOR: ...who lives with his family at 3109 Piney Lane. The Scrooges work hard, play hard, go to church, pay their taxes, give to charities. And they really celebrate Christmas!


5. CU of Alexander.

ALEX: Yes, birthdays too. And all the holidays. Like I always say, one thing we really learned from great, great grandfather Scrooge was to celebrate.


6. Mr. and Ms. Scrooge, wrapping presents.

NARRATOR: But last year, a peculiar thing happened to Alexander Scrooge. It was the night before daughter Susie's birthday. Before going to bed, the Scrooges checked off their preparations:


7. Medium close-up of Alex and Ms. Scrooge studying a long list.

MS: Let's see... cake, candles, ice cream...

ALEX: Party games, prizes, decorations...

MS: Gifts bought...

ALEX: Gifts wrapped...

MS: Cards bought...

ALEX: Cards signed...


8. Medium close-up of Alex and Ms. Scrooge asleep in bed, smiling contentedly.

NARRATOR: And exhausted from their labors, but confident that Susie would have a bigger and better birthday than ever before, they drifted off to sleep.


9. CU, Alexander in p.j.'s, sitting up in bed, wide eyed, mouth open.

NARRATOR: However... at the stroke of midnight, Alexander Scrooge was awakened by a strange presence:

ALEX: What ... ? Who's there ... ? Wha... What us this ...


10. Frightened Alex sitting an edge of bed, gazing at Spirit.

PAST: (Authoritative, stern, a little creepy) Alexander Scrooge, I am the Ghost of Celebrations Past. Come with me. I have something to show you.

NARRATOR: And trembling like his great, great grandfather before him, Alexander Scrooge followed the specter out into the night.


11. Adult Alex and Past silhouetted as they peer through window featuring Alex as a four-year-old.

ALEX: Where am I? What IS this place? Why... It's my boyhood home. And there.., there I AM! Cute little fella! Look... It must be Christmas!

PAST: That's right, Alexander Scrooge. And what do you see?


12. Decorated tree in foreground, family seated at dinner in background.

ALEX: (with excited pleasure) Why... the tree, with all the old decorations.

And presents -- but not many. We weren't rich, you know. And Christmas cookies.

And dinner... oh look at my mother's Christmas dinner Not as fancy as nowadays -- but was it good!

13. CU of adult Alex and Past.

ALEX: What times we had! The food, the singing, the company... All those Mysterious packages ... and the excitement of opening them. Like I always say, one thing we learned from great, great grandfather Scrooge was to CELEBRATE.


14. Backs of adult Alex and Past in foreground, observing 6-8 boys seated at a table.

PAST: Look again, Alexander Scrooge. What do you see?

ALEX: Why... what Is it?... it's my birthday, my eighth birthday. See the candles? And there's Tommy and... what's his name?... Mike. And a few gifts. Hmmm... it doesn't look like much of a party now. But at the time it was fantastic!


15. Eight-year-old Alex with another boy, giggling over a mess of valentines.

ALEX: Wait a minute! Now it's changed again. Look, it's Valentine's Day. Man, look at all those Valentines! That must be the year Janie Morton sent me ten! What a blast!


16. Nine-year-old Alex with other boy lugging huge sacks.

ALEX: And there's Halloween! Hey, this is great! Look at the size of that sack! That was the first year my parents let me cross the boulevard, and I got enough candy to last me till Christmas!


17. Alex as a ten-year-old seated at heavily laden Thanksgiving table.

PAST: Alexander Scrooge, how do these celebrations strike you now?

ALEX: Huh? What do you mean?... Great! They were really warm and happy occasions. You know... "food, fun, and fellowship!" They were a little... simpler than today, but... really nice.


18. CU Alex.

ALEX: We weren't rich, you know. But we always tried to do a little more each year. We believed in celebrations. Like I always say...

PAST: (Interrupting) What were you celebrating?


19. CU: Back of Past's head in foreground -- Alex looking at him uneasily.

ALEX: "What?" Well... no special... thing. Just celebrating. You know, people need a change of pace... well... a time to relax and enjoy each other, to sort of... you know ... cut loose. We can't work all the time. We were just... celebrating.


20. Alex and Past sailing over fireworks display.

NARRATOR: The tour continued: Alexander Scrooge and the Ghost of Celebrations Past took in the fireworks the year Alexander was twelve. Then his high school graduation, and his sister's wedding. They wound up with a more solemn occasion, Grandma Scrooge's funeral, and then headed back to Piney Lane.


21. Medium close-up of Alex and Ms. Scrooge asleep in bed, smiling contentedly.

NARRATOR: It was two a.m. as Alexander Scrooge slipped back into bed, his head buzzing with happy memories -- and his heart only a little troubled by the Spirit's puzzling question:

PAST: Alexander Scrooge, what were you celebrating?


22. CU, Alex in p.j.'s, sitting up in bed, wide eyed, mouth open.

NARRATOR: But no sooner had he returned to his slumber than a second Spirit appeared.

ALEX: Now what? Who are you?

PRESENT. Alexander Scrooge, I am the Ghost of Celebrations Present. Come with me. I have something to show you.


23. Alex and Present.

ALEX: (Enthusiastically) Oh great, more celebrations! And I bet even bigger and better than before!

PRESENT: "Bigger," yes. Come and see.


24. Street scone at night. Signs reading: Sell-Ebrate.

ALEX: Look, it must be October. They're putting up the Christmas decorations. We'd better get busy with all these gift lists -- Susie, Jimmy, Uncle Harry...


25. Susie and Jimmy on floor watching TV with the single word -- BUY -- on it.

ALEX: November already! I see the Christmas massages have started on TV.

MS: I know Jimmy wants an Electro Monster, and Susie a Mini-microwave.


26. Alex and Ms. Scrooge at table, with huge stacks of Christmas cards, envelopes, lists.

ALEX: (Increasingly frantic through frame 29) Come on, It's getting late! We've got to got those cards out.

MS: Did the Browns send us one last year?

ALEX: (Annoyed) I don't know. We'd better send them one just in case.


27. Alex and Ms. Scrooge carrying packages.

MS: Darn! only ten more shopping days, and we still don't have anything for your Uncle Harry.

ALEX: Or for the dog. We always get something for Spot, you know.


28. Alex and Ms. Scrooge at home wrapping gifts.

ALEX: Did we get enough for Susie?

MS: I think so. But we need more for Jimmy -- and more paper and ribbons.

ALEX: We have to get Uncle Harry's package mailed today. It's too late already!


29. Alex decorating enormous Christmas tree .

MS: The Morleys are having the gang over Friday night.

ALEX: Rats! We'll have to leave the boss's dinner early.

MS: Oh no! Jimmy's play is that same night!


30. Tree aglow, with packages under and all around It. Backs of Present and Alex in foreground.

PRESENT: Alexander Scrooge, what are you celebrating?

ALEX: (Haltingly) Well ...Christmas, of course. You know... love. And... Peace-on-Earth.


31. Back of Present, Alex talking.

PRESENT: And where Is the love in Christmas?

ALEX: Uh ... just in the air, I guess... you know, "the Christmas spirit." And it's in the presents -- giving things others, and getting things from them.


32. CU of Present.

PRESENT: And the Earth? Where is the peace on Earth? How does all your giving and getting celebrate your membership in the whole human family? How does it celebrate your love for your beautiful Earth-home?


33. Back of Alex, talking to Present.

ALEX: Yes... well...

PRESENT: Now does your feasting celebrate your unity with the poor of the world, with the one billion who are hungry, who are dying or disabled for lack of food?


34. Present and Alex sailing by building

ALEX: Now wait a minute! I know there are a lots of needy people in the world. But that has nothing to do with our Christmas. Christmas is a time to celebrate. Like I always say...

PRESENT: (Interrupting) Come, Alexander Scrooge. There is more to see.


35. Church wedding.

NARRATOR: And so there was! The Spirit of Celebrations Present took Alexander Scrooge on a mind-boggling tour--a $20,000 bedding, a $10,000 funeral, a 600-death Memorial Day.


36. Alex and present in flight.

NARRATOR: They took in the parade of Easter finery, Mother's Day, Father's Day, a couple of graduation parties, a wedding anniversary, and seven more birthdays.


37. Alex praying before gigantic turkey at Thanksgiving table. Ms. Scrooge, Susie, and Jimmy bowed at heavily laden table.

NARRATOR: The Grand Finale was Thanksgiving.

ALEX: We give thanks for the bounty of our land -- and ask thy blessing on those less fortunate than us.


38. Alex in bed -- bewildered, worried.

NARRATOR: At 4:00 a.m. when Alexander Scrooge returned to his bed, he was dizzy with celebrations. And troubled. Three things had begun to bother him about the way his family celebrated Special occasions:


39. CU of Alex awake on pillow -- tear on cheek.

NARRATOR: First, the celebrations had lost their original meanings. Indeed, some now had little meaning at all. Second, they were too consumptive, too wasteful of the Earth's resources. And third, the Scrooges' extravagant celebrations separated them from hungry brothers and sisters around the globe.


40. Ebenezer, smiling, waving.

NARRATOR: Alexander Scrooge began to wonder at perhaps he had been led astray by his great, great grandfather. Surely there Is more to celebration than being merry, and being generous. Surely, in the late 20th century, there must be finer way to celebrate, a way that is more sensitive to people and the Earth.


41. Alex sitting up in bed jestering.

YET TO COME: Alexander Scrooge!

ALEX: Oh no, not another one! Let me guess: The Ghost of Celebrations yet to Come, right?

YET TO COME: That I am!

ALEX: And you're going to show me the birthdays, and Christmases, and weddings of the future, right?


42. CU of YET TO COME.

YET TO COME: Wrong, Scrooge. Only you can shape the celebrations of the future. I offer you three choices.

ALEX: (Warily) Oh?... What are they?

YET TO COME: To return to the celebrations of your childhood... Or to continue in your present ways... or to create a new simplicity.


43. Alex looking intensely into Yet to Come's face.

ALEX: (With conviction) Oh Spirit, this night I have soon that something is rotten with the way we've been celebrating. It's been... too hurried, too impersonal... too fancy and wasteful... It's been too narrowly focused on our own little circle of family and friends... and too expensive. I think I want to choose the new and simpler way. But... I'm afraid.


44. Yet to Come and Alex in flight.

YET TO COME: (Gently) Alexander Scrooge, come... let me show you how It can be done. Already in your heart you have taken the first step. You are frustrated... disgusted.

ALEX: Oh yes, I AM! And the second step?


45. Alex and Ms. Scrooge, wrapping presents.

YET TO COME: It is to know your own freedom. The old rituals of celebration -- the buying, the giving and getting, the eating -- these are powerful habits. But you can change them. You can take charge.

ALEX: (Uncertainly) I... don't know...


46. Susie and Jimmy an floor watching TV with the single word "BUY" on It.

YET TO COME: You have been trapped in a system of overconsumption -- not just in your celebrations, but in your whole lifestyle. The system demands that you buy, and use, and throw away as much as you can, am fast as you can. But you CAN break free!

ALEX: Do you really think so?


47. Alex and Ms. Scrooge, Susie, and Jimmy seated around kitchen table.

YET TO COME: You can if you have help. Look now: See how today at Susie's birthday you will share your concerns with your family. See how they too will confess their frustrations at busy, commercialized celebrations -- how they too will want to change but won't know how to go about It.

ALEX: Hm-hmm, I see...


48. Alex before group.

YET TO COME: And see how you will gather a small group of friends -- others who are vaguely discontented with their style of celebration, with their very style of life. Together you will share your practices, and consider what changes to make.


49. CU of Alex, Yet to Come in background.

YET TO COME: You will talk about the values you seek in your celebrations -- care for one another, shared acts of remembering, stewardship of the Earth, justice for all people. You will talk about alternative ways to celebrate.


50. CU of list on newsprint.

ALEX: (More optimistically) Yes ... Most of us really want much the same thing -- celebrations that are simple and human, that express our love for one another, and for the whole global family... even for the Earth itself.


51. CU of list--


ALEX: ...Celebrations that are less materialistic and expensive, that use less food, and energy, and natural resources, that keep us in touch with all the people of the world rather than isolating us from them.


52. Alex speaking to Yet to Come

ALEX: But uh... Spirit... I still have a little question.


ALEX: (Embarrassed) Well, you know, in this now simpler way of celebrating... uh ... will we give gifts at all? I mean, it's kind of nice.


53. CU of list--


YET TO COME: Alexander Scrooge, that too is up to you. You will consider giving and receiving simpler gifts, less commercial, less wasteful, less impersonal gifts -- gifts that express your love deeply uniquely.


54. CU of list-


YET TO COME: But also, you will become better acquainted with some of the needs of your community and world, and with the organizations that try to help. Then you will honor family members and friends by giving to these causes in their names.


55. CU of Alex.

ALEX: Yea... I do begin to see. It really is up to me, isn't it? The course of our celebrations yet to come ... that depends on MY decisions NOW. (With resolution) I can DO it. I SHALL do it!

YET TO COME: Alexander Scrooge, like your great, great grandfather, you are a very fast learner!


56. Alex back into bed, smiling, signs of dawn at window.

NARRATOR: It was dawn by the time Alexander Scrooge returned to Piney Lane... the dawn of Susie's birthday. As he climbed into bed, he resolved that the Scrooges would begin to examine their celebration habits that very day.


57. Dawn over silhouetted town.

NARRATOR: And they did. From that day to this, the Scrooges have been discovering and trying simpler ways of celebrating. Oh, it's not always easy. And sometimes they stumble. But little by little they are learning to celebrate (and live!) the people-loving, Earth-loving way.


58. CU of Alexander Scrooge.

ALEX: You know, maybe in the process of changing our ways of celebrating, all of us can become more human, more sensitive to the whole human family, and more caring for our mother Earth.


59. Ebenezer winking.

NARRATOR: But what of old Ebenezer? What would he think of this new style of celebration? Just so much "humbug?... No, we rather think that once he saw the need, he would go for it. After all, Ebenezer Scrooge was a very fast learner!



Brought to you by the folks at


Who provide resources for a simpler lifestyles with an emphasis on celebrations.


61. Title: THE END

(Will you be a fast learner?)

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Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator, 1995-2007
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