Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

I was feeling a bit restless the other night, so instead of starting another classic from my list and being bogged down by obligation, I took my copy of A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens off the shelf. The beautiful white book had been sitting there all year, neglected and lonely. And it wasn't that I was planning on reading Christmas stories this holiday season...but I felt I needed to.

It is easy to get caught up in the bustle around the holidays-obligations, gifts, seeing family, traveling, baking, putting up decorations, etc. So, I sat down with my book of Dickens Christmas stories, had my tree lighting up the page, and read. And while I could talk about the other stories in this volume, it is the title volume that deserves the most attention. Yes, A Christmas Carol deserves all the praise.

I haven't read the story in a really long time. Instead, I have contented myself with watching the various film adaptations over the years. Last year, in fact, I watched "A Mickey's Christmas Carol" with my sister-it took us back to our childhood.

I was surprised by how moved I became by the story. The story is one we are all familiar with-learning that we need to maintain holiday spirit throughout the year, spreading joy, love, and happiness to everyone around us. But the story is so much more powerful on paper than it is in film. Because not only does the reader get this message about holiday spirit, the reader also learns a bit about what it means to be human.

“I wear the chain I forged in life....I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

I was moved by Jacob Marley's account of his punishment and how it was too late to change the course of his life. And what I think fails to come across in the film versions of this story is the power of that knowledge.

I mean, we all go through like making choices about what is most important to us, what we find value in, and sometimes, with selfishness. We want and need things, pushing aside relationships and feelings with others. And I think, what Dickens was trying to say here, in addition to all the holiday cheer, is that we need to acknowledge the way we live on a daily basis.

Because yes, it is easy to be charitable and loving and helpful around the holidays. It is when we dredge on into winter, into summer, that we forget the spirit and magic of the holidays, and we start to forget that people need our help year round.

That's what I loved on this read of A Christmas Carol-that depth that you can pull from Scrooge's character as he sees those he has let down and the true consequences of his actions. It was inspiring, moving, and just what I needed this holiday season.

While you can certainly get the message by watching one of the films, nothing can beat the power and magic of Dickens' words. Reading as Scrooge transformed from a selfish and miserly sort into a man who found joy in helping those around him, and taking pleasure in spending time with them...well, it is what the holidays are all about. Dickens brought his character to life, and the transformation Scrooge undergoes in print is moving.

I think that in the future this will be a holiday favorite. I can't wait to sit around the tree and read it to my children-teaching them that we should keep the holiday spirit the whole year, not just in the month of December.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”


  1. I admit, this was my first Dickens and I hated it! If I hadn't known the story already, I wouldn't have understood a word I was reading. The language was so tough compared to other Dickens I've read since then. I didn't even want to try him again for a long time, but finally read Great Expectations (which i enjoyed) and Bleak House (which as you know, I hated). :/ I do wish I loved this one because it seems like a great Christmas tradition to read it.

    1. how can you use the word HATE pretaining to anything!!!Its no wonder you couldnt understand a word you were reading!!!!

  2. "nothing can beat the power and magic of Dickens' words"...I had this same reaction last Christmas when I read A Christmas Carol for the first time :)Loved it!

  3. I really enjoyed it as well, though I must say my heart will forever be dedicated to the Disney animated film.

    My review of the book here:

    Merry Christmas!

  4. I love A Christmas Carol - it's one of my favourite Dickens novels so far. I was hoping to re-read it this year but haven't had time. And the white cover is so beautiful - I wish I had that edition!

  5. God Bless Us All, Everyone! The Happiest of Holidays…from! By Amy Miller

    Like so many other people, the Christmas (I’m sorry, but I won’t be “politically correct” about it) season is one of my favorite times of the year. And one of my favorite ways to celebrate is by reading my favorite Christmas stories or watching my favorite Christmas movies.

    Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” fits the bill in both cases. Dickens wrote his fabulous and timeless novella in 1843. It was published just in time (December 19) for Christmas itself. There are a number of movie versions that have been made. My personal favorite, by far, is the 1938 effort, starring the fabulous Reginald Owen as the irascible Ebeneezer Scrooge and the wonderful Gene Lockhart as the selfless and ultimately triumphant Bob Cratchit.

    I watched it again (for the umpteenth time) the other night and it truly gets even better over time.

    That Christmas dinner enjoyed by the Cratchit family always puts a joyous tear in my eye. And so does the incredible transformation that Scrooge undergoes, from “bah humbug!” to finally embracing the true Christmas spirit.

    Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” during a time when the “old Christmas trends” were rejuvenated in England for real. So I like to think of this marvelous story as a fairy tale come true.

    For me, more than anything, Christmas means a rekindling of genuine human spirit between family, friends, anyone. Presents are nice, of course. But if we can all somehow take this time to make the shift, from “less Scrooge” to “more humane,” then all is truly a miracle to enjoy every year.

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  6. Beautiful post. I'm always captivated and moved by this story, no matter how many times I read it. The way Dickens talks about life, about our actions and their consequences, brings tears to my eyes every time.
    However, I often move on from the holiday spirit, that state of awareness and knowledge of the really important things in life, far too quickly. It's true, we should be there for people throughout the whole year. And yet that's not always the case, at least for me. I hope to change that once the holidays are over.

  7. This is the first year I've ever felt the need to read Dickens, but you and two other bloggers I read have me thinking I should put him on my list of to-reads in 2012.

  8. I listened to this a few years's a fantastic Christmas story!

    Merry Christmas, Allie!

  9. It's been forever since I've read this, but A Christmas Carol is definitely a holiday favorite. You make me want to read it again!

    Merry Christmas!

  10. I read this last year and felt similar to you--that I was so moved by the book when I knew the story already. I cried like a baby. Merry Christmas!

  11. One of the things I love about Dickens is that his slow, unrolling language forces you to slow down. One can't possibly rush through Dickens -- and I like that. It's like going back in time.

    I'm reading Dickens' Christmas stories too, this month. Magic :)

  12. I read it yearly from seventh grade to college. It's been a few years since I read this at the Christmas season. I love it so much. I definitely need to revisit it -- since not this year, definitely next!

  13. This is one of my fav holiday reads, so glad to see another admirer admitted to the fan club. If you'd like to add another layer to this, you might be interested to read Judith Flanders' "Consuming Passions" (dreadful title) which covers (amongst lots of other topics) how the Christmas traditions in the UK really picked up during the Victorian era... Fascinating as it shows just how recent some of these "age-old" ceremonies really are and the role that Dickens played in making them famous...

  14. Starting when I was little, our father read Dickens' Christmas Carol to my brother and me for a number of years, starting on Thanksgiving and ending (I wondered how he ever did it!) on Christmas Eve exactly. Since then, I have read it not every year but quite regularly, sometimes several years in a row. Now I can manage it in one evening, often Christmas Eve, tho' I prefer to stretch it out for a couple evenings before Christmas, just for the sake of sentimental comfy-cozyness, remembering the sound of my father's voice as he read certain passages. He was not the theatrical type but he did read very well. I have read it so many times that I could never consider it objectively or critically, just as I become accustomed to the idiosyncrasies and faults of people I really care about. Whatever. The Christmas Carol will always be very much a part of my Christmas, and very close to my heart.

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