Christmas Greetings from Charles Dickens

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's been a busy Christmas season, so I decided to let someone else do the writing this time. Charles Dickens volunteered, but I agreed to introduce his passages.

Near the beginning of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge's nephew visits Scrooge's office to invite him over for Christmas. The conversation ends this way.
"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly, "keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine!"
"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew. "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew: "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its 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-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creature 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!"
In this scene, Marley's ghost has come to visit Scrooge, and Marley is grieving over his lost opportunities.
"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, "I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode?"
After returning from church on Christmas Day, Bob Cratchit reports on Tiny Tim's behavior during the service.
"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."
And the book ends with Dickens' (and my) wish for you.
[Scrooge] knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
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The drawing at the head of this post is "Mr. Fezziwig's Ball" by John Leech. It was one of the original illustrations for A Christmas Carol.

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