Merry Christmas, everyone! Well — Merry Christmas Eve, that is. Ever since my last post on Mr. Dickens’s Christmas Books, I’ve been reading them with great zeal for the holiday season. I’m currently in the midst of The Cricket on the Hearth — but since A Christmas Carol is by far his most popular Christmas story, I want to talk a little bit about that one.
I don’t know how many versions of that movie I’ve seen since Thanksgiving. I know all the lines by heart — so reading the story is always something of a fun and familiar experience. And I’m sure everyone has their own favorite part! Scrooge’s meeting with the ghost of Jacob Marley is equally unnerving and amusing; the old miser’s visions of the past are heart-breaking; the scene Dickens paints of the Cratchit family can move you to tears. The foreshadowing of Scrooge’s demise is surreal and frightening; the personage of the ghost of Christmases yet to come raises gooseflesh on your arms.
But my personal favorite bit is when Scrooge walks through the city with the ghost of Christmas present. I shall include a passage, here, which is my favorite of the whole story.
But soon the steeples called good people all, to church and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the streets in their best clothes, and with their gayest faces. And at the same time there emerged from scores of bye-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable people, carrying their dinners to the bakers’ shops. The sight of the poor revellers seemed to interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker’s doorway, and taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was! God love it, it was!
But this isn’t all. The Spirit has demonstrated his true nature and purpose, very clearly; but my favorite lines are the ones that directly follow this passage.
“Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprinkle from your torch?” asked Scrooge.
“There is,” the Spirit replied. “My own.”
“Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day?” asked Scrooge.
“To any kindly given. To a poor one most.”
“Why to a poor one most?” asked Scrooge.
“Because it needs it most.”
“Spirit,” said Scrooge, after a moment’s thought, “I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, should desire to cramp these people’s opportunities of innocent enjoyment.”
“I!” cried the Spirit!
“You would deprive them of their means of dining every seventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to dine at all,” said Scrooge. “Wouldn’t you?”
“I?” cried the Spirit.
“You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?” said Scrooge. “And it comes to the same thing.”
“I seek!” exclaimed the Spirit.
“Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in the name of your family,” said Scrooge.
Now, pay close attention to the FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH — for it’s full of meaning, as pertains to Christmases (and all days) past, present, and yet to be.
“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
I love that bit. It calls us to remember, that all things people SAY have been done in the name of God have not necessarily been; and it asks us to recall, that though our God is a mighty and a powerful God, also He is merciful, and loving, and much more than many people think He is.
So — a very Merry Christmas FROM ME TO YOU! I hope it’s a beautiful day, filled with memories that will last your whole life through.