Normally I put up a picture that is (relatively) appropriate for the holiday and go one about my merry way. This year, I decided to re-read A Christmas Carol for the first time in probably 15 or so years. It’s been a fairly regular Christmas read for me, but I got out of the habit. So I thought I’d combine a review with my holiday greeting. First the greeting:
Happy Holidays to you all. May you find joy and laughter with all those who are closest to you and may you books for presents. Lots of books!
Now the review:
Synopsis: The story of Scrooge, a
miser who becomes a different man when he is presented with visions of
past, present and future by Marley’s ghost. First published on 17th
December 1843, it had, by Christmas Eve of that year, sold 6000 copies
at a price of five shillings.
First Line: Marley was dead: to begin with.
Random Quote: “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Review: This has always been my favorite Christmas story. The first time I came into its presence was in elementary school in Memphis, TN (Snowden Elementary School, in fact). They called us all into the auditorium for an afternoon of Christmas movies – nothing religious, just the secular stuff – mostly old classics. I have no clear memory of any of those movies with the exception of A Christmas Carol. It was the 1938 British version with Reginald Owen as Scrooge. I remember being utterly captured by it and looking for the book to read. We read it aloud until I could re-read it on my own.
A Christmas Carol is a story about redemption – how one man, who has led a selfish and greedy life that has brought him no pleasure or kinship, gets a chance to revisit his choices and observe the consequences. It’s smart, funny, and, of course, very Victorian.
It is also one of the most timely and relevant books all year. Forget the political reporting, the novels on current events, the magazine articles, and all the other things that have been written about the state of our economy and our political system. Just read this. It will tell you everything you need to know.
From the notion that one’s duty is to help the poor and ease their suffering to the punishment exacted of those who ignore this duty, this book is like a treatise on our times, on our ability to walk away from the starving on the way to our Christmas latte; on the fact that in a crushing economy there are no bread lines, no soup kitchens, no government jobs programs – just more children on the street; on the fact that most of our nation’s wealth is in the hands of a very few who can’t be bothered with anything in their lives other than grubbing for more money to buy their next 25,000 foot house in the country. There is also the existence of people who rise above their poverty, who find joy in the small things of life, who struggle and who sometimes die, but who maintain the giving spirit of Christmas throughout their days.
I was humbled and delight by this book. It was a delight to read, as always, and amazing how relevant it is even though it was written way back in the 1800’s. That’s why they’re classics – in case you ever wondered.