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No holiday story is quite as beloved as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. His masterful novella evokes the spirit of Christmas in more methods than one. It is a cautionary tale urging readers not to lose sight of what is truly important; each other in all Mankind.

Earlier this month I sat down to read the account. Like many of my pervious readings of which are already ingrained in popular culture, I knew the outcome of the story before I even chanced to read a word. Having attempted to read a Dickens novel many years prior, I was hesitant to devolve into A Christmas Carol.

Christmas CarolI was quite startled how easy it was to read! The prose in A Christmas Carol is rather modern and the pace of the story, equally so. The characters are fully realized despite its modest length. Ebenezer Scrooge is quite the curmudgeon and I do not believe I have seen enough cinematic interpretations to find an actor who has truly done the miser justice. Dickens’ Scrooge is truly beastly! Scrooge’s distain and contempt for humanity and happiness drip of the page. I can recall as a child my first introduction to Scrooge, of which I belived was his Christian name. Someone corrected me, saying Scrooge was his last name. “Well, what is his first name?” I asked innocently.–“Ebenezer.”—“Gesunheit.” I replied. Well! I was young and never heard such a peculiar word! How was I supposed to know my relative was not sneezing? My relative laughed outright, “No, his name is Ebenezer. His first name.” I was horrified. What a ghastly thing to name a child! Later,  I found this was not an entire unusual name for the time period. Ah! Those Victorians!

Interestingly, in film adaptations Tiny Tim is given much more importance than mentioned in the original story. In the book, he is a symbol of those in need of compassion but retain a felicitous conviction despite their lot. The lad does not utter his famous line at the close, as some film versions would lead us to believe. This was mildly disappointing for me.

The three famous spirits prove to be wonderfully drawn. The complete story is so richly described I could clearly see the scenes play out before me. The spirits are metaphors for memories and awareness. Surely, each one of us can recall a special Christmas memory in the vein of the Ghost of Christmas Past; decorating the tree, a particular gift, singing carols, or frolicking through the snow. The Present phantom is much more difficult to assume. It takes a conscious effort to stay in the Christmas spirit and focus on the meaning of the holiday amongst the slew of merchandize and commercialization. As for the spirit of Christmases Yet to Come, well, I am not sure how many people plan in advance. While, I have a list of holiday ideas for the next five years, I understand I am an anomaly. Thus, it is particularly interesting there would be such a spirit in this story. On the other hand, the writer’s hand, I understand the devise connecting the number three and the trinity to a Christmas story for balance and symbolic meaning. Do you agree on its necessity?

A Christmas Carol is the heart of a Victorian Christmas. In truth, it is the central reason why Victoriana is forever associated with Christmas. One cannot grow up without the mention of Dickens or Victorians during the Christmas season. As Dickens alludes, the season is all about memory making, and peace on earth and goodwill toward men. I highly recommend this short piece if you have not already had the pleasure of reading it.