"A Christmas Carol"

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I am embarrassed to confess it, but I had never read this book until now. I've seen countless versions of the movie, some good and some awful, but I put off reading it because I made the mistake of judging the book by it's movie. Every version I've seen has been stuffy and preachy, and more than a bit over-the-top and maybe that's to be expected; it wouldn't be Hollywood if it wasn't overdone. And let's face it, Christmas movies are seldom subtle. In spite of that I watch one or more versions of it every year, but could never bring myself to risk reading the book and not liking it.

As it turns out, my fears were groundless. I loved the book. It wasn't stuffy or preachy or overdone. It was beautiful. The same lessons are there but it feels more sincere, more grounded. Another thing - and this was a surprise - the book was less old- fashioned than the movies. It felt like a more current story, much easier to put yourself in the middle of. The characters are more believable, the story flows better and the final chapter, where Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning a changed man, is more convincing than any I've seen in movies.

The writing is typical, wonderful Dickens. After an eleven line description of Scrooge's... well, scrooginess, he says: "No wind that blew was bitterer than he...". You can feel the chill. Another line I like is "...every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!". Harsh, but so funny. Even if you disagree with the sentiment you have to admire such imaginative hostility.

I loved this so much I want to read it again already. I expect I will every Christmas, because truly, how could anyone not want to be reminded of this at the close of each year:

"I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due it's sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-travelers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

If you've never read it - and I realize I may be the only one so foolish - then go out right now and get yourself a copy. Merry Christmas to you!


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