God Bless Us, Every One: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

December 17, 2012 Classics 29

Happy Monday, Bookworms. In honor of the holiday season, I decided to re-read my all-time favorite holiday story, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It’s a classic tale of redemption and good triumphing over indifference. In light of all that’s gone on in recent days, I think it’s helpful to focus on some of the positives in the world. Teachers are often unsung heroes because so much of what they do is intertwined with politics. I firmly believe that most teachers try to help their students to the very best of their ability, regardless of what test scores may say. When the chips were down, the heroic teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary that laid down their lives to protect their students. Let’s just take a second to be grateful for awesome teachers, shall we? My love affair with A Christmas Carol began in school, thanks to some of those fabulous teachers.

When I was in the 4th grade, we did a class production of A Christmas Carol. I wanted to play Ebenezer Scrooge (because it was the lead role, and I have always been a praise junkie), but instead I was cast as potentially the coolest character in the whole story- The Ghost of Christmas Present. I got to wear what I believe was a seasonal altar boy’s robe and a wreath on my head. I look good in hats… Even if they’re made of evergreen. I REALLY wish I had a photo of this. Sadly, I do not. Instead I offer you this:

Here's a photo of me wearing antlers instead.

Here’s a photo of me wearing antlers. Also Jim. Looking annoyed with me.

When I was in the 6th grade, my English teacher assigned us our first major paper. It was a compare/contrast paper highlighting the differences between Dickens’s original text and two movie versions of the story. The teacher in question reads my blog. The internet is funny that way. Hi, Mrs. Y! (You can’t see it, but I’m waving at you right now.) I’m sure you cringe at my “artistic” use of fragments and run-ons, but I assure you that I really DO know the rules. I just flout them. Trivial tidbit: if you read A Christmas Carol you’ll notice that instead of being divided into chapters, it’s divided into sections called “staves.” A “stave” is the plural word for staff, as in, music staff. Dickens was being cheeky and “composing” his Christmas “carol” as though it were actually music. It’s enormously clever. Let’s all give a polite poetry clap to Charles Dickens’s humor…

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay! I don't remember how to read sheet music but I'm sure that's not what this photo is depicting.

“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!” I don’t remember how to read sheet music but I’m sure that’s not what this photo is depicting. Whatever, it’s positively Dickensian.

On the off chance that you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, seen a single movie adaptation of it, or watched a sitcom in the last 150 years, I’ll give you a little synopsis. Ebenezer Scrooge is a wealthy man, but he’s the biggest grump in all of London. He’s rich, but super cheap. He gives nothing to charity, he underpays his clerk, he is mean to his only living relative, and he’d rather be cold than spend money on coal t0 keep his office warm. He used to have a partner in crime named Jacob Marley. Marley died 7 years before our story begins, but chooses to come back in his ghostly form to give Scrooge a warning one Christmas Eve. Marley tells Scrooge he needs to quit being a cheap bastard because if he doesn’t, he’ll be forced to wander the afterlife dragging chains and being miserable. He tells Scrooge that he’ll be visited by 3 spirits that night (to which Scrooge rather glibly replies that he’d like to see them all at once to get it over with…You’ve got to give him credit for being ballsy. I wouldn’t argue with a ghost…)

Scrooge goes on to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. It’s a fascinating journey through Scrooge’s psyche as we explore Christmases past. We get to watch the childhood traumas he experiences that turn him into a big mean jerk. We see his lost love. We see the glimmers of humanity that must be hiding under the gruff facade. The Ghost of Christmas Present (a part I am known to have played more brilliantly than any other 4th grader ever… Obviously) takes Scrooge on a tour of the present’s festivities. Scrooge visits the nephew he constantly brushes off. He sees his clerk’s family subsisting on his meager salary, but displaying love and joy despite their poverty. The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge a bleak picture of what will become of him if he does not change his ways.

You know what happens when Scrooge gets up on Christmas morning?! He changes his ways! He jumps on his bed, he buys a giant turkey, and he goes to dinner at his nephew’s house. He gives Bob Crachit a raise! He gives a fat chunk of cash to charity and he begins to laugh again. Is there anything more heartwarming than a story of redemption? A story that celebrates giving, joy, and caring. A Christmas Carol is a classic for a reason. It reminds the reader that there is more to life than money. There is immeasurable joy to be had by helping out our fellow human beings. Decency and kindness don’t go unnoticed.

I’m being rather cowardly in avoiding in-depth discussion of the nightmare that occurred in Connecticut on Friday. My heart broke along with the rest of the world when the story broke. I simply can’t wrap my mind around that much sadness without plunging into a black hole of despair… Which will accomplish absolutely nothing. Right now I CHOOSE to celebrate the good. I want to buy someone’s coffee. I want to send a card to a little old lady. I want to give a gift just for the sake of seeing the recipient smile. I can’t undo what’s been done, but I can refuse to allow tragedy to define my behavior. I’m going to spread some JOY to chase away a tiny corner of darkness. I encourage you to do the same. As Tiny Tim so succinctly put it, “God bless us, every one.”

And God bless free clip art.

And God bless free clip art.

29 Responses to “God Bless Us, Every One: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens”

  1. Lucinda Younce

    You made my day! I’m so glad I had a small impact on your life! Merry Christmas to you and yours! Mrs. Y

  2. Darlene

    I read the Christmas Carol for the first time last year, after watching many renditions of it. Enjoyed it immensely!
    Thank you for this post and for the encouragement to spread joy in this sad time.
    Merry Christmas!

    • Words for Worms

      Merry Christmas to you too, Darlene. The ghost of Charles Dickens came to visit me in my sleep and wanted me to tell you he’s happy you read his book. That’s not true. But I’m sure he’s happy you read his book :).

  3. Charleen

    As a former music major I cannot for the life of me figure out what the music is trying to represent. I think it’s just decorative. I mean it’s not even in a consistent time signature. And yet they made sure to note that it’s in G major. Oh well. I guess it’s artistic.

    You go on spreading joy. I think it’s the best any of us can do, and will have a far greater impact on our day to day than rehashing the same old arguments. (Don’t get me wrong, something needs to be done if these things are going to stop, but I just think we go about it all wrong. No one wants to have a serious discussion, they just want to go back to the mudslinging they’ve all been missing since the election… okay, sorry, getting off my soapbox.) Keep spreading the joy!

  4. Jayne

    The Muppet Christmas Carol IS by far the best version of A Christmas Carol ever made. My husband and I both love that movie (and he tends to be a real Grinch regarding most other Christmas-related movies, songs, etc). We’ve already watched it this year, but talking about it makes me think another viewing is needed sometime soon :).

    • Words for Worms

      “He must be so lonely, he must be so sad. He goes to extremes to convince us he’s bad. He’s really a victim of fear and of pride. Look close and there must be a sweet man insiiiiide. NAH!” Love love love!

  5. leapoffaith0618@hotmail.com

    I believe there is a video of this 4th grade production floating around somewhere….

    • Words for Worms

      There is, or at least there was at one time. The play was performed straight to video, so to speak. No parents in attendance. Sadly, my 4th grade teacher is not among my blog followers. Le sigh.

  6. JoulesDellinger

    Fabulous! I have been in a shame spiral of watching cheesy Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark… now I feel like I need to cleanse my palate with a GOOD Christmas movie! =)

  7. Leah

    I’m reading A Christmas Carol for the first time right now! (I mean, not RIGHT now because I’m reading your blog obvs, but it’s the book I’m reading when I read books.) I was wondering why the chapters are called staves; thank you for explaining! That is brilliant!

  8. Meg

    I love that you were the Ghost of Christmas Present! He’s my favorite ghost in my favorite adaptation (The Muppet Christmas Carol, of course).

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.