Everybody knows Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”, don’t they? At least some version of the story has entered your brain somewhere (even if it was only the “Muppet’s Christmas Carol” – one of my personal favorites….Go Gonzo and Rizzo!). You know, the story about the grumpy old Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the three Ghosts? “A Christmas Carol” really is one of the most popular Christmas stories.
There may be a few things you don’t know about the story, though. For instance, the actual written story is only about fifty pages long. I was so surprised when I actually sat down to read the book how quickly I finished it! Unlike many of Dickens’s other novels (“David Copperfield”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “Great Expectations” and many more), it is also very easy to read. I always thought that I hated reading Dickens until I read this story. Many of his books have way too many characters with weird names and complicated stories and big words, but “A Christmas Carol” isn’t like that. The story is simple and the characters are cool and the words are only too big once in a while.
Also – did you know that the ghosts didn’t all come in one night? Many movies and plays have them come in one night to save screen time, but in the book they come three nights in a row. This definitely makes Scrooge’s incredulous statement at the end: “And they did it all in one night!” and his wonder over how it is Christmas and he hasn’t missed it make more sense, eh? I always thought he seemed a little retarded in the movies when he goes prancing about saying how surprised he is that it is Christmas when of course it is Christmas -- you went to bed on Christmas Eve and got up on Christmas morning! But maybe that is just me.
Another fact you may not know about this story is that Dickens only wrote it because he was deep in debt. That’s probably why it is so short! He wrote it quickly to get paid! Funny that it has become one of our favorite parables of generosity and Christmas spirit, huh?
Anyway, I highly recommend that you read this story as a way to get into the spirit yourself. If you don’t have a copy, you can find it online for only seventy-five cents at half.com (along with all your favorite movie versions) or just check it out of your local library for free. Then, check on the forums and post your own thoughts on the discussion thread. Tell us what you liked and how it compares to your favorite movie or play version. Let us know what you think of the moral and if it still applies today.
Next month’s book (in case you want to get a jump start) will be George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” an interesting story where the animals take over a farm and form their own society. You can find that for seventy five cents online, too.