Gift #216: Musings on A Christmas Carol

I’ve had a rocky history with Dickens’ Christmas Carol. I blame this largely on being terrified of Mickey’s Christmas Carol as a small child and I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from it. For many, many years the only movie of the story I could tolerate was the Muppet Christmas Carol. That is a delightful version and I still enjoy it today because it brings back happy Christmas memories with my brother when we were children. In my adult years, I’ve grown to accept the recent Disney version with Jim Carey, even though it is more intense than the muppet rendition. One year, my father read the whole story to my family in one sitting and I found that I enjoyed hearing the story immensely. This was a turning point in my relationship with the story. I realized that It’s a very powerful piece of writing on many levels. I appreciate the social conscience that Dickens emphasizes in his works. But of course, the transformation of Scrooge is the hallmark of Christmas Carol.

A more heartless and despised character could not be found among the pages of classic literature. Through the revelations of the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future, Scrooge sees his condition through the eyes of God and realizes his desperate need for change. As he seizes the opportunity to rewrite his future by changing his heart, he also comes to see the rest of mankind through the eyes of God and devotes himself to bettering the lives of those he comes in contact with. He begins to perceive “mankind as his business” not the accumulation of wealth.

I’ve always liked the end of Christmas Carol best and wished that the movie versions would spend more time with the redeemed Scrooge showing his renewed life. One of the reasons I like the Jim Carey rendition is because it lingers a bit longer here. As I watched it this year, I was greatly moved by the statement at the end of the story: “It was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” Wow! What everyone remembered about Scrooge was that he observed Christmas with his life. No one remembered him for what he had been all his life – a miserly, cruel man. His changed heart eclipsed all of that. What an amazing observation on the power of transformation is contained in this statement.

And so, for the first time in my life, I’ve begun to think of Scrooge as a hero – a man to emulate. After all, it’s clear that Dickens wanted us to remember Scrooge as one who understood the importance and purpose of Christmas and shared it everyday. As I’ve thought alot about this story, I’ve come to understand that it isn’t so much a cautionary tale, but rather a celebration of new life – exactly what Christmas is all about. I pray that I too will keep Christmas well and honor it in my heart and with my life. And as we close out 2012 and look forward to the new year, may “God bless us, everyone!”

Blessings to you,

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