I’ll start with a confession. I’ve never read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol… but since there have been numerous adaptations via film and television I’m guessing that a lot of people haven’t read it either. But that hasn’t stopped its influence from reaching into our very vocabulary. Even the name Scrooge is now synonymous with miser. That fact alone should reflect the impact this short, yet potent, story has had on our collective consciousness.
My first experience with this story came from Mickey’s Christmas Carol. With Scrooge McDuck playing his namesake and Mickey Mouse playing Bob Cratchit. As a child, I probably watched that cartoon at least a hundred times… not kidding. And the part at the end where Scrooge McDuck is shoved into his grave while it burns with hellfire below as Black Pete laughs like a demon above completely freaked me out as a child. I always shut my eyes (and ears) during that part. Till this day, I don’t want to be buried in the ground for fear that something like this might happen. Irrational? You bet, but there’s no way you can talk me out of it.
But now I’ve read the book.
To say that it was a good book would be doing it an injustice. It is an absolute masterpiece of a story that keeps ingraining itself into generation after generation. I was in awe of the language and swept away with passages such as this one, “He (Scrooge) was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.” I doubt I’ll ever be able to write a sentence with such a lovely cadence. And this is just one of many I could point to.
Upon reading, some of the things that really stood out were the descriptions of London and the sense of cold that seeped through the pages and into my fingertips. Dickens did a masterful job of creating a living city while staying in the confines of a fairly short story. His love for the city and the people shine through, and it’s easy to see that he holds them close to his heart.
Saying anything negative about this work would be an injustice, not just to Dickens, but also to our very collective consciousness. If anything I would criticize others and myself for not taking this message to heart. And even if you know the story in your bones, watch Jim Carrey shuffle across the screen in 3-D countless times, hear the Muppets sing along with Michael Caine over and again, you owe it to yourself to read this story from time to time, a reminder to be generous is something we all sorely need.
As Tiny Tim would say, “God Bless Us, Every One!”