Tuesday, December 25, 2012

One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is watching “A Christmas Carol.” The story never gets old, and I never fail to cry at least twice. My tears start during Ebenezer Scrooge’s haunting vision of Christmas to come when we’re shown Tiny Tim’s unused crutch hanging on the fireplace. I recover from those tears just in time to cry again when Scrooge finally sees himself for what he is and realizes he’s been given a second chance to make things right.

Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in just six weeks for the Christmas season of 1843. He began working in October and sent it to the publisher on December 19th. At the time he was under stress, both personal and professional. Imagine creating all those unforgettable characters in that amount of time. The unfailing love of Ebenezer’s nephew Fred who comes to see his Uncle Ebenezer every Christmas despite being rejected each time. The faithfulness of Bob Cratchit who works long hours for a bad tempered Mr. Scrooge, who is too miserly to keep the office warm. Then there's Jacob Marley, Tiny Tim, Belle, and old Fezziwig. As a writer, I'm amazed at Dickens' accomplishment. The story has never been out of print.

Although the story isn’t “Christian” per se, it’s hard not to see spiritual truths in Dickens’ story. The most obvious is the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s given a chance to start over, and although he can never recover all the things he forsook as a young man, such as Belle, he can begin from that moment to be a new man.

My favorite movie version of “A Christmas Carol” stars George C. Scott. If any of our readers have a favorite version, please comment. I'd love to hear what they are. 

If you’re interested in more history of the manuscript, it’s been preserved by the Morgan Library and Museum. Visit their site to see how they preserved the manuscript, and also to see a digital facsimile of Dickens' hand written pages.



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