A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

When I was young I shied away from this story because I thought I knew it all from the movies and I thought Tiny Tim was sappy. But for the past few decades I have re-read this beautiful little book almost every Christmas and everytime I come away with a new insight; sometimes small, sometimes big.

It’s not too late to read it for Christmas this year. It’s a short book and can easily be read in an evening. When our kids were in elementary and middle schools we read it once or twice in the lead up to Christmas – reading 1 chapter a night. The kids are all grown up now so I read it on my own. Carla and I also watch at least one movie version each Christmas. The best is George C. Scott as Scrooge from 1984 (available on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other services).

Scrooge and Marley

Maybe it’s because I just finished Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, or because I’ve been reflecting on the impact of COVID-19 on many people who work in service jobs (e.g. waiters) and small business owners that I saw the division between the haves and haves not both in 1843 and today. It takes spiritual intervention for Scrooge to become aware of the problems of the poor. Dickens knew the life of a poor house first hand and was one of the 19th century top socially aware artists.

It would do us all well to understand that we are our brothers’ keepers. As Marley’s ghost tells Scrooge:

“‘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!'”

Page 25

My second takeaway – and how could I have missed this in so many readings – is that when Scrooge visits the Marley household with the ghost of Christmas Future after Tiny Tim dies, Tiny Tim is actually dead in bed upstairs waiting to be buried.

My takeaways this year were small but impactful. Back in 2016 I was gobsmacked to realize that Scrooge is on an epic hero journey.

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