It is not Christmas.
I am aware of that, thank you very much.
Nor am I generally the type of person to be singing Christmas carols in July or leaving my Christmas lights up all year round.
(Okay, you caught me. I totally am.)
But, if we are going to be fair and totally above board with everything, I did, in fact, read this book around Christmas time. I had seen plays, watched endless numbers of movie adaptions, and listened to radio productions, but never actually read the book. So I thought it was about time I picked it up.
Despite my heightened expectations, A Christmas Carol was everything I hoped it would be and more. Charles Dickens (also the author of A Tale of Two Cities, which I reviewed last week) is an incredibly insightful, interesting author with a solid grasp of character, prose, and story. From the first words to the last, this charming Christmas classic held me spellbound, and more than ever aware of how watered down and cliched this story has become. The powerful classic is now a children’s fairytale, something pulled out at Christmas time and ignored otherwise.
And yet, some renditions still hold true to the spirit behind this beautiful story. I have seen plays—and movies—that, although not perfect, held very well to the original storyline and managed to convey the truth of what Dickens put onto the page.
All of us, of course, know the story of the crotchety, miserly Scrooge, who hated Christmas, hated people, and loved nothing but his money and his business, if that can be called love. His experiences with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future are familiar to many. Even the tale of Tiny Tim, the ailing son of his overworked and woefully underpaid assistant, Bob Cratchit, is well known and loved.
And yet, for the sake of time, many stories have cut out much of Scrooge’s journey with the spirits, his return to a childhood marred by neglect and illness, the memories of a woman he loved and longed to see at ease and with plenty, and yet lost because of his obsession with the wealth he was determined to give her. Each of the spirits show him another portion of his life, either past, present, or future, and glimpsed from the outside, instead of through a veil of wealth and greed, Scrooge begins to understand how cold, useless, and unfeeling the wealth that he was massed and hoarded over his long life has become. How much he has missed through his miserly, clutching behavior, and how little time he still has left to amend his past.
A Christmas Carol has always been one of my favorite stories, and since reading the book, I treasure it all the more. If you have never picked up the unabridged classic and read it front to back, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will not be disappointed.
“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.
“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”
The bell struck twelve.