It’s a favorite the world over, and has been since 1843. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Everyone knows the story. It’s been reprinted many times, and portrayed in film over and over again. Ebenezer Scrooge has been played by a range of actors from Alastair Sim to Mr. Magoo. Our own family’s favorite is Scrooge the Musical, starring Albert Finney as Scrooge and (Sir) Alec Guinness as Marley’s Ghost (thank you very much). We watch it every year on Christmas Eve.
Yes, everyone knows the story. Yet, how many people have actually read the book? It’s actually just a little novella, a mere 80 pages long. It would take no more than a day or three to read it cover to cover. Most people, when I ask if they’ve ever read the original, tell me no. They have seen a half dozen different film versions, yes, but don’t know the actual story.
Every movie (and cartoon) portrays the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge differently, and I have yet to see one that actually follows the book verbatim. Of course, the creative license taken in the film versions does not detract from the story’s charm, or from the lessons it teaches.
“Mankind was my business,” the Ghost of Marley said to Scrooge. “The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.” The same could be true for each and every one of us. In these trying times, that lesson is even more poignant.
Everyone should read the original Dickens. Now, especially.
Every year at this time, I pull out the original book. Lately, I enjoy a Kindle copy (because my old brain has trouble staying awake when reading print books). For at least the past twenty years, I have read A Christmas Carol annually. I’m nearly done with the current novel I’m reading, and as soon as I close the cover (or the file, in this case) on that book, Dickens will be opened and, once again, enjoyed.
If you have yet to read Scrooge’s story in the original … please do. It is an experience that everyone needs to enjoy, if only so they can watch the next movie version and say, “That’s not how it happened in the book!”
(I drive my family a bit bonkers with that.)
The messages of kindness, of humanity, of brotherhood, of the generosity of spirit, are needed today, more than ever.
So, fix yourself a cup of cocoa, cuddle under a warm blanket, open up Dickens, and enjoy the true Christmas Spirit (all three … four if you count Jacob Marley … of them).
And, God bless us, every one.
- Image: Illustration by John Leech, as seen in the original publication. These can be enjoyed in the Dover Thrift edition (Amazon link in the text above).
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