The Holiday season always gets me thinking about my good friend, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge. For a multitude of reasons, which I will spare you here on this blog, I’m not a huge fan of the Holidays. In fact I’m sitting here typing this post in my oversized, kelly-green, Grinch T-shirt. It was a gift (of course), given to me because I’m a known naysayer of holiday cheer.
This past week I was sandwiched between Christmas and New Years, waiting anxiously for it all to be over and many a time I thought to myself, “Bah, humbug.” Then, shamefully, I realized that I had no idea what the word “humbug” even meant. So, like any smart gal would, I googled it.
In my search for the meaning of humbug I stumbled across an interesting writer named Austine Cline. Let me quote him here:
“The phrase ‘Bah, humbug’ is today connected solely to Christmas due to Charles Dickens’ character Scrooge, and most people think it represents a general denunciation of others’ having a good time. The word humbug actually means “something intended to deceive, a fraud; an impostor; nonsense, rubbish; pretense, deception.” This word has value, which should be reclaimed…”
After reading the entirety of his article I experienced an awakening of sorts. Of course I’m a Scrooge during the Holiday Season, because I’m a Scrooge in all of life, and this is NOT a bad thing!
I have always been that person who questions any pretense, who tends to call out a bunch of rubbish when I see it, and I don’t do well with deception. Accusing something of being “humbug” can be healthy. It means that you are asking questions, and not blindly accepting something for what it is without digging deeper.
In my work this tendency to ask questions always made me a better designer, a better writer, a better listener and a better problem solver. If a client requested 78” high panels I was always going to ask why, because I knew from experience that an open work environment would be a healthier solution for the employees. If someone wanted to dispose of hundreds of cubicles I was always going to suggest scrapping the steel, not only to save space in our over-stuffed landfills, but also to put a few extra dollars back in my client’s pocket.
Of course, it’s important to find a balance between seeing the rubbish and actually calling it rubbish, or appearing to be a know-it-all because you feel your solution makes the most sense. This is something openly admit I’m constantly working on. In spite of the negative connotations associated with being a constant Ebenezer Scrooge in life, this is an integral part of what makes me… me. Sniffing out “humbug.” Skepticism, and having this inquisitive nature is why I love being a student and learning news things (too bad I can’t get paid to go to school for the rest of my life).