Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Carol - Defining the Holiday for Us

Playing in the pit orchestra for A Christmas Carol has inspired me to go and read the original book by Charles Dickens. It's a short one -- a 95-page small paperback -- but well worth the read. I knocked it out in an hour and a half yesterday.

Originally published in 1843 by the author to make some quick money, the story has gone on to be hugely inflluential in how modern people celebrate the holiday. See this story for a few details and some insight into what Dickens was reading when he wrote this tale.

Twenty-first-century readers might be challenged by the mid-nineteenth-century language and pacing in the original tale, and Dickens was a master of detail from early days of court reporting. But it conjures up the flavor of that time, when books were read by lamplight, before any of the instant communication we enjoy today existed.

But the essence of the story--the miserly Scrooge, loving but shivering Bob Cratchit, poor Tiny Tim, Scrooge's cheerful nephew Fred, and the three Christmas spirits who turn Scrooge around -- is all there in today's 90-minute theater production (takes about the same time as reading the book!).

Beyond religion and commercialism, the holiday spirit, from Dickens to us, is "goodwill toward men." And throw in some togetherness and hilarity too.

After listening to the Hallmark version of A Christmas Carol on my iPod, I was moved to send a donation to my local Second Harvest Food Bank. While I am no miser, I still feel especially fortunate and wanted to do something. No one should go hungry at this time of year (or ever).

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