An Odd Fellows Christmas Carol

An Odd Fellows Christmas Carol
by Toby Hanson, PGM, PGP

It was an unusually cold and damp day in the small town.  The chill hung in the air like an oppressive, unseen blanket.  The coldness was pervasive, seeping into every crack and nook in every building in town, as though the spirit of bleakest winter had been poured out over an unsuspecting town.  In one particular building, there was a little light and some warmth.  Harmony Lodge #16 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows had just completed initiating a new member—the first new member in several years.  In fact, it was the first time that anyone could remember that the lodge had gone to the effort of using some of its props and other degree paraphernalia to perform an initiation.  The fact that the lodge had gone to such an extravagant length to perform the ceremony was testament to the importance of the candidate.  This was no ordinary candidate; this was the son of their Secretary Bob Cratchit.  Young Tim Cratchit had, somewhat reluctantly, finally given in to his father’s pleadings to “just come check it out” and had decided to apply.  When the time came to initiate him, Bob requested the lodge do as close to the full initiatory degree as possible instead of what they usually did, which was merely watching the video degrees and then unceremoniously draping a white collar around Timmy’s neck.

The elderly men had dutifully trudged up the stairs to retrieve the bare minimum of adornments for the Initiation and then performed the most perfunctory of ceremonies, giving Tim the least amount of effort possible.  They did little to hide their disdain for the bother of having to put on such a ceremony just for a new member.  After an underwhelming but somewhat sentimental ceremony, Tim was officially a member of the lodge.  After the meeting concluded, the process of hauling back upstairs what they had brought down from above for the ceremony had commenced.

“I’m proud of you, son.  You finally joined the lodge with your old man,” said Bob.  “What did you think of the Initiation?”

Tim replied excitedly, “That was awesome!  I was, like, blown away by the first part with the ske—“

“Whoa there, son!” Bob interjected, cutting Tim off mid-word.  “We don’t talk about the secrets of Odd Fellowship.  Keep the details to yourself.  But, it sounds like you liked your Initiation.”

Ebenezer Scrooge, Past Grand of Harmony Lodge #16, jumped in, “Well, the boy should have!  We went to all of this work, dragging all these musty old robes out and hauling all the props down from the upstairs.  That was a lot of work and it would have been easier to just show him the video!”

“And I appreciate all the work the lodge went to so we could give my boy a proper Initiatory Degree.  I remember when we used to do the Degrees regularly for our candidates—“

Scrooge jumped in again, “Bah humbug!  Your boy is the first one who’s applied to join the lodge in ages, and that’s because you practically dragged him up the stairs by the ear to do it!  Kids today just don’t want to do anything except play on their phones!”

Bob, eager to defend his son and other younger people, countered Scrooge’s hasty assessment, “Brother Eb, I think if you gave some of the younger folks a chance you’d find that some might actually be interested in Odd Fellowship.  Not all the young folks are as disinterested as you think.”

Scrooge was unfazed.  “Bah!  I know all there is to know about kids today.  I’ve watched my sister’s boy waste his life away tapping on that blasted phone of his!  All he does all day is sit in his mom’s basement playing on his computer.  He’s not worth a bucket of warm spit.”

Again, ever the optimist, Bob countered, “Your nephew may actually be working remotely and not just playing games all day.  Just because he’s not sitting at a desk with a ledger book doesn’t mean he’s not working.”

Scrooge was not to be swayed by any amount of reason.  “It sure as heck doesn’t look or feel like work.  In my day we got up and went to work every day and liked it!  These kids today just want to lay around and do nothing all day.  We used to go to work and then look forward to lodge at the end of the work day because we worked hard and needed to do something with our friends.  Now all the kids want the easy stuff without doing any of the work.  That’s why they never join the lodge.”

“Hey—have you ever asked your nephew to join the lodge?” asked Tim.

“No.  Of course not.  Kids today don’t want to join anything anymore,” replied Scrooge.

Tim’s answer was simple: “But I just joined the lodge tonight.”

“Like I said earlier, you only joined because your old man practically dragged you here.  If my nephew wanted to join, he’d have already asked me.  Now stop asking questions and help me put all this old junk away.  I don’t see why we still have all this useless stuff.  We never use it,” barked the stern old Scrooge.

At that point, Scrooge began slowly climbing the stairs up to the third floor of their old lodge hall with Tim in tow behind him.  The upper floor was a dusty jumble of storage lockers and various closets in corresponding states of disrepair.  Some piles looked as though they had recently been moved around; others were caked in a thick layer of dust with cobwebs to top them off like cake decorations.  For Scrooge, it was a frustratingly untidy mess of forgotten junk, the amalgamation of years of neglect and atrophy of a once-thriving lodge.  For Tim, however, it was an undiscovered trove of treasures for this new and mysterious lodge he had just joined.

Tim’s excitement at finding old ritualistic items was palpable.  “Wow!  Our lodge has a lot of cool stuff up here.  What are these collars for?”

Scrooge dismissed the question forcefully, “Don’t touch that!  Those are the collars we used to wear for meetings back in the day, before we got the chain regalia.”

Tim asked again, “And how ‘bout these robes?”

Scrooge answered, “Robes?  Oh, the Degree Robes!  When we used to do all the Degrees here at the lodge we would wear those.  The red one was for the Noble Grand, like you saw tonight.  This one over here was for King Saul, that old tattered one was for one of the parts in the Second Degree.  Here—this pink one is from the Third Degree.  You’ll see that one eventually—if you stick around.”

“Stick around?  Why wouldn’t I stick around?”

“None of them ever do.  They come to one, two, maybe three meetings and then give up.  Nobody really wants to be an Odd Fellow anymore.”

“Do you give them a reason to stay?”

An agitated Scrooge replied, “Reason to stay?  That’s not my job!  I’m here to keep the lodge going.  I’m one of the few left from the days when we had over a hundred members.”

“So why not use some of this stuff up here and get some new members?”

Again, Scrooge dismissed Tim’s sincere question, “You sure are a nosy thing, aren’t you?  Nobody wants to be an Odd Fellow anymore and it’s just not worth trying.  A couple guys have joined over the years but none of them stuck.  Nobody has the patience anymore to be an Odd Fellow.  Anyway—here’s where the scene goes.  Just lift the door and slide it into that bottom cabinet.  Let’s get this all put away and get out of here.  I don’t want to be too late getting home and miss my TV program.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Scrooge; I think there’s a lot of cool stuff up here and if more people knew about it we’d have a pretty sweet lodge.”

Disgusted with the eager questions from Tim, Scrooge replied, “Just put the stuff away, kid, and let’s get out of here.  Don’t waste any more time with this dusty old junk.  It’s just a bunch of mess to clean up and it’s better left up here.”

With that, the two went back downstairs, Scrooge intent on making it home in time to watch TV and Tim starting to feel like the lodge wasn’t the place for him.  Bob catches his son by the arm as he steps off the staircase.

“Looks like you two got everything put away upstairs.  Timmy, did you get to see some of the old stuff while you were up there?”

“Yeah, but Mr. Scrooge says we shouldn’t touch it or do anything with it.”

Somewhat disappointed, Bob tries to smooth over the situation.  “Well, it’s probably for the best.  That old stuff has been up there as long as I’ve been a member and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it come downstairs, except for a few special occasions.  It’s just easier to wear the chains in lodge rather than the old collars.  We just want to get the business done and then go home.  C’mon, you can tell me more about what you saw in the car.”  Bob pauses a moment and then asks Scrooge, “Brother Eb, need anything else before we leave?”

Dismissingly, Scrooge replies, “No, you two head home.  I’m going back upstairs to make sure the lights are turned off before I head out.”

With that, Bob and his son Tim turned toward the stairs and made their exit down and out of the lodge hall while Scrooge climbed back up the stairs to double-check the lights.  Once ascended, Scrooge could see from the top step that there was a light still on in a distant corner of the upstairs storage area.  As he walked over toward the light, he heard a sudden clatter.

“Wha…?  What was that?  Who goes there?”

The wailing voice of a ghost was heard, “Ebeneeeeeeezer!  Ebeneeeeeeezer!”

Scrooge replied sharply, “Yes, that’s my name.  Who the heck are you and what are you doing in our lodge hall?  I’ll call the cops!”

The spectral voice continued, unaffected by Scrooge’s challenge.  “Ebeneeeeezer… I’m in every lodge hall.  I’m the ghost of Thomas Wildey!”

Ever the skeptic, Scrooge replied, “What?  That’s preposterous!  Thomas Wildey is long dead.  Now identify yourself or I’m calling the cops right away!”

“Now, Brother Scrooge, you wouldn’t call the cops on the Founder of Odd Fellowship in North America, would you?”  With that, Wildey steps out from behind a tall pile of boxes, looking resplendent and radiant in a 19th Century waistcoat and vest.  “I’m here to give you a very important message about this lodge.  I’ve seen what’s been happening recently and I’ve come to warn you about what’s going to happen if you don’t change your ways.”

Still unbelieving, Scrooge challenges the ghost claiming to be Wildey, “I still don’t believe that you’re actually Thomas Wildey.  If you really *are* Thomas Wildey, give me the sign of the Golden Rule Degree of the Encampment.”

Wildey gives the sign perfectly, much to the astonishment of Scrooge.

“My God!  It is you!  Nobody ever remembers the sign of the Golden Rule Degree.  So what’s this message you have to tell me?”

“Brother Scrooge, ever since my passing I have been traveling the spirit realm and watching over the lodges that I helped to create.  Ridgley, Enwistle, myself, and the others put our whole lives into building Odd Fellowship and making it a place where people could come together for mutual aid and comfort.  We spent countless hours building the foundations of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  It breaks my heart to see such a beautiful organization disintegrating; turning into tatters through neglect and disinterest.  What were once proud, active lodges full of merriment and joy that provided a refuge for those in time of need have now become derelict shells of their former glory.  Gone are the days of lodge halls full of Odd Fellows happily sharing what they had with one another so that all would be enriched.  So many of our lodges have fallen off the path of enlightenment that I now wander the spirit realm finding lodges like yours and warning them of their fate if they do not change their ways.

“Tonight you will be visited by three spirits.  Each represents a different phase in the life of your lodge.  The first will be the Ghost of Lodge Past who will show you how robust and joyous this lodge once was in its prime.  The second will be the Ghost of Lodge Present who will show you the current state of your lodge.  The third will be the Ghost of Lodge Future who will give a glimpse of your lodge’s fate.  Heed well their admonition and forget it not!”

“Wait!  Wait!  So these spirits are just going to show up here and take me on some kind of tour?  What am I supposed to do?”

“Heed well their admonition and forget it not.  Forget it not!”  With that, Wildey steps back behind the tall stack of boxes and disappears from the sight of the incredulous Scrooge.

“Well, if he thinks I’m just going to sit here and wait for some ghosts to show up he’s got another thing coming.  I’m getting out of this place and heading home.”  Scrooge turns his back on the piles of old items and trundles back down the stairs toward the lodge hall. 

As he rounds the bottom of the stairs and heads toward the front of the building a brief flicker of something catches his gaze from the corner of his eye.  He turns his head to see what could have possibly distracted him from getting home to his TV program, he’s met by a familiar old sight—the man who signed his application to join the Order, Charlie Blackburn, is standing at the opposite corner of the dining hall.

“Ebenezer Scrooge—is that you?” asks Charlie.

“Charlie?  Charlie Blackburn?  Could that possibly be you?” Scrooge offers in response.

“One in the same, brother; one in the same.  How the heck are you?  I haven’t seen you in ages.  How have you been?”

Surprised, Scrooge offers, “Charlie, I can hardly believe it’s you.  You’re the man who signed my application to join this lodge all those years ago.  I thought you had gone off to the Odd Fellows Home.  Yet here you are looking just like you did on the night I was welcomed into the lodge.”

Pleased by Scrooge’s recognition, Charlie continued the story.  “I remember that night.  That was back when you were just starting out your career and were an intern at my company.  You were the right kind of hard-working go-getter who I knew would be successful in life.  More importantly, I knew you would be a good Odd Fellow so I invited you to one of our lodge parties.”

Now starting to let his guard down, Scrooge began to indulge in more of the memories, responding, “Yes, the parties!  How I remember.  We used to have dances on the first Saturday of the month.  I actually used to trip the light fantastic back in the day.  I remember dancing with a few of the young ladies from the Rebekah lodge… what were their names?  One was Trudy and I think the other was Tess… or was it Martha?  Who cares!  Anyway, we used to have fun back in those days.  I remember the poker games that used to run late into the night on Fridays.  And then there were the Encampment nights when we would all dress up and take the women of the LEA out to dinner before meetings.  Everyone looked so smart in their shirts and ties.  Those were the days when we wore jackets to lodge meetings.”

“Yes, I remember it well.  You used to love sitting next to old Brother Harvey and listening to his stories about coming into the lodge hall early to light the wood stove and get the place warmed up before meetings.”

“Old Brother Harvey!  I had forgotten about him.  What ever happened to him?”

“Brother Harvey lived out his last few years at the Odd Fellows Home and was buried in a plot next to his beloved wife Gladys in the Odd Fellows Cemetery out on Oak Road.  I’m sure you must see his grave when the lodge goes out to decorate the cemetery for holidays.”

“Oh, we haven’t done that in years.  We gave up after some of the old-timers passed.  Those of us who were left just didn’t think it was all that important.  Besides, we had a lot of work to do here on the building.”

“You mean this dingy, shabby building?  The one that used to be the social hub of town?  I remember when this place was always busy.  The Theta Rhos and Juniors would meet on Tuesday nights, the Encampment and LEA on the first Monday, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs on Thursdays… and then we would travel over to the next town for our Canton meetings.  Between all the meetings here and the various activities each group planned, there was hardly a quiet night here in the hall.”

“Now they’re all quiet.  The Theta Rhos and Juniors quit years ago.  The Canton went away, so did the LEA.  There’s still an Encampment about an hour away.  I belong but rarely go.  It’s basically just another lodge meeting but everyone sits in different chairs.  The Rebekahs are just barely hanging on, what with Ruth in a nursing home now and Edna having trouble with her hip.  The Odd Fellows still meet here once a month—when we make quorum, which we don’t always do.”

“What?  How could such a lively, active group like our lodge not make quorum?  Where are the bingo games, the card parties, the pie auctions and ice cream socials?”

“They’re all gone.  As the Rebekahs declined there was no one to make food for events and none of the older Odd Fellows wanted to spend any money.  They all said that it was the lodge’s money and it had been built up over the years by our forefathers so it wasn’t ours to spend.”

“No events?  What kind of fun is that?  How did they expect the lodge to grow and attract new members without any events?  Nobody comes to lodge because they love business meetings.  They need to have social time so they can build the bonds of fraternity.  That’s what keeps our Order going.”

Beginning to show some sadness, Scrooge replied, “I know, Charlie.  It just isn’t like that anymore.”

Charlie’s tone turns slightly darker as he questions Scrooge, “Do you know, Ebenezer, do you?  I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t stop at the store and grab a pie and some ice cream and invite the local service clubs over just to get to know you and the lodge.  You might find some new members that way.”

“I don’t know about that, Charlie.  It’s just all so daunting.  It’s all I can do right now just to keep the lodge going.  Bob Cratchit is a good Secretary; he keeps good minutes and files our reports regularly.  Tom is a good Noble Grand who keeps us on track at our meetings and his brother David does fine as our Warden.  William is a fine Vice Grand.  But with just those few people in the lodge we don’t have the time or energy to do anything other than just paying the bills.”

“But didn’t I hear the sounds of an Initiation earlier this evening?  I could have sworn you just got a new member.”

“We did, but I don’t expect him to last.  He seemed enthusiastic but all he wanted to do was dig through the old junk upstairs.  He’ll be gone in a month or so just like the rest.  We won’t hear from him and then we’ll drop him for non-payment.  We haven’t had a new member stick since Cratchit joined the lodge twelve years ago.”

“Well, if something with the lodge doesn’t change soon, you’ll be more right than you realize.”

“What do you mean, Charlie?” asked Scrooge.  But Charlie was gone.  Just as quickly as he had appeared, Charlie slipped effortlessly back into the damp, cold, chilly night leaving Scrooge alone in the dining hall of the lodge.  Realizing his old friend and mentor had disappeared, Scrooge said, “Dang it!  He’s gone.  Well, now that all that’s out of the way I can finally head home.”

Scrooge turned out the last light in the dining hall and walked through the faded double doors into the lodge hall when again, he caught sight of something unusual out of the corner of his eye.  No sooner had he thought he saw something, a voice came from the far corner of the hall.

“Excuse me, sir—are you Mr. Scrooge?”

“Yes. And who, may I ask, are you?”

“I’m Christopher.  I joined this lodge about five years ago.”

Searching through his musty memory, Scrooge tried desperately to place the face and voice and give it some meaning.  “Christopher… Christopher… Wait—I remember you now.  You were that younger guy who showed up and joined and then started asking a bunch of questions and wanted to drag us around to every event in town.  Good thing you never came back.  We couldn’t have kept up with all the stuff you wanted us to do.”

“Or maybe the lodge would have been better off if you had done some of those things.  I had a lot of energy and ideas when I showed up.  After a couple meetings I realized your lodge didn’t really want energy or ideas.  Right now you’ve got another young man who is excited about Odd Fellowship and has the same kind of energy and ideas I used to have.  Come over here to the window and take a look at the scene on the sidewalk below.  Your new member is talking to his father…”

Christopher gestures to Scrooge to follow him to the window on the front of the building where the two of them can see and hear the conversation taking place below between Bob Cratchit and his newly-initiated son Tim.

“Son, I’m so proud of you for joining the lodge.  You’re a fourth-generation Odd Fellow now.  My grandfather was a charter member of the lodge.  His signature hangs on the charter upstairs.”

“Dad, that’s cool and all but…”

“But what, son?”

“Dad, I just… I just don’t want to go back.”

“Why, Timmy?  Why wouldn’t you want to go back?”

“I just don’t see what you get out of it.  The lodge doesn’t seem to do anything.  They all sit there and complain about everything.  And when I wanted to check out all the cool stuff upstairs the old guy just got upset with me.  What’s the point of having all that cool stuff if nobody sees it?  You guys have a bunch of robes and collars and swords and helmets and other things that are all awesome but you never use any of it.  Why keep it?  What’s the point?  And what does the lodge even do?”

“You just don’t understand.  The guys there are tired.  They’ve run the lodge for so long.  I didn’t even really want to be Secretary but there was no one else after Brother Clarence died.  They used to do fun things like go sledding in the park in January and march in the Fourth of July Parade in their uniforms and go out to dinner and hold parties and dances.  Some of the old guys told me about back when they used to have fun.  It sounded great.”

“So if Odd Fellowship was so great then, why don’t they do that now?  What’s the point if they’re just sitting around and complaining?  Nobody wants to be a part of that.”

“You just don’t—well, maybe you do have a point.  They don’t seem to be too willing to do anything differently.”

“Yeah.  I got that impression really hard.  They don’t want me or my ideas.  I know if some of my friends knew about the lodge and all the great stuff they would want to join but they would leave immediately if they got the kind of resistance I got tonight.  I guess I might go to the next meeting and give it another chance but I just don’t want to keep going if they just don’t care about me.”

Watching from above, in the lodge hall, Christopher turns to Scrooge, “It’s not too late, Ebenezer.  After the next meeting you can take Tiny Tim upstairs and show him around.  Show him the collars you used to wear in meetings.  Show him some of the jewels that are kept locked up and away from the public.  Show him some of the other props for the Degrees he’ll be taking.  Let him get interested in the lodge and show him that he’s important to this lodge.”

“And what if I do all that and he still doesn’t come back?” Scrooge asks.

“Oh he’ll come back, trust me.  I would have come back if only I felt like I was wanted in the lodge.  Besides, even if he doesn’t come back he’ll be someone out in the world with a good impression of Odd Fellowship, telling others about his great experience.  He may not be the one to save the lodge but he may lead you to that person.”

Still unconvinced, Scrooge asks again, “So you want me to waste a bunch of time showing junk to some kid?”

Christopher replies, “No.  I want you to make an investment in the future of your lodge and show a young Odd Fellow that this is his lodge, too, and he should learn to be proud of its history and accomplishments.”

After a brief pause, Christopher turns back to Scrooge and says, “Now it’s getting late and you should be on your way.”

“That’s the first sensible thing you’ve said.  I’m heading downstairs to my car to go home.  Good night, Christopher.”

Ominously, Christopher says, “Fare well, Scrooge.”

Scrooge turns and walks away from Christopher, not caring one bit about his warning or what he was saying.  Before going down the final flight of stairs to street level and his waiting car, Scrooge turned out the lights in the hall.  The one remaining light was in the entry way at the bottom of the stairs.  As he trod down the stairs toward his exit from the building, he saw a dark figure swing open the front door and meet him at the landing.

Surprised when he recognizes the dark figure, Scrooge offers a greeting to the familiar visage before him, “Why, Grand Secretary Delaney!  What are you doing here?”

The Grand Secretary gave him a solemn response, “Brother Ebenezer, I’ve come to pick up the charter for your lodge.  You haven’t filed your annual report yet, the membership roster shows only four active members, and the Grand Master has to close down your lodge.  You can’t keep going like this.  I’m sorry, brother, but it’s all over.”

“But… but… but… we tried!  We had a new guy come in but he didn’t stick around.  You’ve got to give us a couple more months.  Maybe one of the Rebekahs will join if we start meeting in the afternoons…”

“Didn’t you hear?  Edna fell and broke her hip.  After that, the Rebekahs gave up their charter and the three remaining members joined Hemlock Rebekah Lodge.  They meet out at the Methodist Church just off Oak Road by the cemetery.”

“Well surely there must be something else we can do.  Maybe my nephew would be willing to join.  I could even pay a year’s dues for him…”

“It’s too late for that, brother.  If he was going to join, why didn’t he do it sooner?  Why didn’t you ask some of the other people on the block or some of the people at church or the people you saw at the store while you were in line getting groceries?  You could have done that while there were still enough members to keep the charter and show the new people how to do things.  But you didn’t, and now it’s time to turn over the charter to me.”

“You can’t just take the charter like that!  Isn’t there something in the Code about taking the charter?”

“Yes there is.  You haven’t been functioning as a lodge for more than a year.  You didn’t file your annual report and I kept calling the Secretary but never got an answer.  The mail went unanswered.  There was no response at all from this lodge.”

“But I was busy!  Bob Cratchit, our former Secretary, had to stop attending meetings to stay home and take care of his family.  He tried to keep up on the correspondence but his responsibilities at home just got the better of him.  He really tried; he did.”

“As I said before, the time for all that has passed.  The lodge is gone.  Frankly, this lodge died years ago.  You just had enough people on the roster to hang onto the charter for as long as you did.  I’m here to collect the charter and books and papers of the lodge.  It’s time to put this to rest.”

“But what’s going to happen to the building?  It used to be such a place of joy and happiness!  We used to have fellowship here in this hall.  Do you have any idea what you’re taking away from us?”

“I’ve already found a buyer.  Your old lodge hall will once again be full of people.  A local hospitality company wants to buy it and turn it into a new bar and event space.  Soon the old paneling and carpet will be gone.  They want to rip that all out and restore the beautiful woodwork.  The first floor will be a boutique shop selling local craft items.  The second floor will be a cocktail lounge and ballroom where they will have dances on Friday and Saturday nights.  The third floor is going to be a new restaurant with Odd Fellows-themed menu items like the Three Links breakfast or the All-Seeing ribeye steak.  Soon the food and entertainment will be filling this building with people socializing and having fun just like it used to back in the day.  Even better, the group that wants to buy the building is interested in some of the old collars and robes upstairs and wants to clean them and put them out for people to see.  Soon their patrons will have a first-class display of what Odd Fellowship used to be in this building.”

“But we could do that!  We already have all the robes and collars and we could keep the charter and—“

The Grand Secretary cuts Scrooge off in mid-sentence, “No, Ebenezer.  I’m sorry.  It’s too late for you.  Now let’s go get the charter and the books and then I’ll walk you out to your car.”

Overcome with emotion, Scrooge yells, “No!  I won’t let you take it!” and then turns and runs out the front door, pushing past Grand Secretary Delaney.  He runs toward Bob and Tim Cratchit as they get into Bob’s car.  Breathlessly, Scrooge implores, “Wait!  Brother Bob!  Brother Tim!  Wait!”

Confused, Bob responds, “Brother Eb?  I thought you were going to be upstairs for a while?”

“I was!  But I just realized something and I had to catch you and Brother Tim before you left.”

Curious at Scrooge’s sudden display of excitement, Tim asks “What’s that?”

Scrooge offers his explanation, “I was wrong.  I was wrong about all of it.  All that stuff up on the third floor isn’t junk—it’s our heritage as Odd Fellows and I want to share it with you.  I had forgotten just how meaningful all of that was to me when I was a new Initiate.  I had completely forgotten how much I loved the mystery and wonder of joining the Order.  I want to share all of that with you.  Come early to the next meeting and I’ll take you upstairs and show you what we have.  I’ll show you the collars and robes and staves and swords and every last ballot box full of marbles and cubes.  I’ll show you the portraits of our earliest members and I’ll show you the china set with our lodge name and number.  I’ll show you every bowling trophy we ever won, every deck of cards we played with, every jewel an officer ever wore, every bingo card we used.  I’ll take you through as much of our history as you want to see.  And Brother Bob, I want you to come along, too.  You deserve to see all that again.”

Tim responds, “Seriously?  You mean all that?  You really want me to learn about all that stuff?”

“Yes.  I want you to come experience the wonder that Odd Fellowship can be.  And then, at the meeting, I want you to share your ideas with the lodge.  Tell us what you think can make us relevant to the folks around town and get more young, energetic, creative people like you involved.  The truth is, we need you and the people like you and they need us.  They need Odd Fellowship, and they’ll never find that out unless we have some events to let them experience what it’s like to be in an Odd Fellows Lodge.”

Visibly moved by Scrooge’s sudden change of heart, Bob responds, “Wow, Brother Eb.  I don’t even know what to say.”

“All you need to say is yes.  Say that you’ll continue attending lodge and helping me build it back into a thriving part of our community.  This night has taught me about what I’ve forgotten in Odd Fellowship and I want to rediscover all of it and share that discovery with you.  Together, we can bring a new sense of purpose and joy to the lodge.  We can restore the Friendship, Love, and Truth that has been lacking.”

Excitedly, Tim exclaims, “Yes!  This is gonna be awesome!  Whadda ya say, dad?”

“You know I love the lodge, son.  I’m happy to support your journey as you discover why I love Odd Fellowship so much.”

Scrooge, heartened by the warm response from Bob and Tim, responds with joy, “Then it’s a plan.  I’ll call the others and we’ll organize a work party for next Saturday.  We’ll start by cleaning up the hall some and getting it looking nice.  We might need to scrub the front of the building and put up a new sign.  Brother Tim, you call the newspaper and let them know we’re starting to get active at the lodge.  We’ll want everyone in town to know that this Odd Fellows Lodge is the place they’ll want to be.”

“I can’t wait to get started, Brother Ebenezer,” says Tim, referring to Scrooge as “brother” for the first time.

“Oh, Brother Tim; there’s no need for such formality.  You’re an Odd Fellow now and my lodge brother.  Call me Brother Eb, just like your father does.”

Tim responded with pride, “You got it, Brother Eb.”

Although the December night still had a noticeable chill to it, the air seemed a little less heavy as the three Odd Fellows went off into the night, filled with the optimism of future promises yet to be made, and a lodge set on a path toward growth and rediscovery.

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One thought on “An Odd Fellows Christmas Carol

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