I'd like to welcome to the blog, one of my very best book blogging friends, and fellow Broke and Bookish writer, Kimberly! I've always known of Kimberly's love for Dickens's Christmas Carol, so I was delighted when she offered to fangirl about it on the blog today!
Everyone has their Christmas tradition. Caroling, baking cookies, visiting the neighbors, etc. In my family we have a lot of the same traditions, but one in particular is my favorite. Every year we watch the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. We have watched this every year for as long as I can remember.
A Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story. My love for it is a mix of nostalgia, and love for the story itself. I've probably watched more versions of this story than anyone else I know. I've seen 4 different stage productions of it (For you Utahns, Hale Center Theatre has the best one!) I've watched numerous movie versions (Muppet Christmas Carol anyone?) Alastair Sim is my favorite, but Patrick Stewart's is fantastic as well.
There is another version, with MANY liberties taken, that has completely stolen my heart. I don't know how many Doctor Who fans are reading this, but I'm going to tell you about it anyway. (Shoot, how to explain Doctor Who???) Basically the Doctor is man (well, a Time Lord but that's more explanation) who travels around in time and space, saving the world, people, making you laugh, cry, smile and... Anyway there is a Doctor Who version of A Christmas Carol. In this version the Doctor comes across a nasty old man (played by Michael Gambon) the Scrooge of his world. He has the power to save thousands of lives, but can't be bothered to do so. “We have a surplus population as it is! Better they die!” The Doctor of course, won't let that stand. But instead of sending three ghosts, he does the job himself. He travels back in time, to the younger version of this jaundiced man. Befriends him, shows him a better side of life. I won't say much more, in case you want to watch it, but it is one of the most heartwarming stories. I've watched it multiple times and it brings tears to my eyes every time.
Then there is my Christmas village. I've always loved them, and my aunt has a beautiful one. It's huge: over a hundred buildings. I'd always admired it. Imagine my delight when I found out my grandparents had one that was made by the same company, Department 56, except their village is different from my aunt's. She has the “North Pole” series. My Grandparents? The “Dickens” series. All of the buildings are based off of places from his books and other shops and homes and famous places that were around in his time. Then I found out something incredibly special. Out of all the grandkids in my family (15ish or so of them including spouses and kids) my grandparents had decided to give the village to me! They had intended to simply put it in their will, but they never put the village out any more. The entire set was in several large boxes, sitting in storage. So my grandparents and I made a deal, I could have the village now if I went and found it in the storage shed. I was more than happy to do that. I drove over to the storage center, and two hours later, covered in dust, several broken nails, smashed fingers and more cobwebs that I care to think about... I had it. MY village. Mine. I took the boxes home and immediately began to put it together. It's beautiful. The buildings are typical Victorian England, everything is perfect down to the last detail. It has buildings from Oliver, Christmas Carol, as well as a few of his other stories. There is even a Globe Theatre (For those who aren't as geeky as me, that is Shakespeare's theatre that he built). The next piece I want, if I can ever afford it is 221b Baker Street, the residence of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. This village is a dream to someone as bookish as I am. I put it out every year. I didn't get the best picture, but here is one for you!
Back to the original story. There is so much to love. Dickens wrote with a wry sort of humor. While it is mostly a serious story, it is littered with spots of humor that balance out the emotions perfectly. The characters are wonderful, and you'll find one from every walk of life. Scrooge, who is rich but refuses to part with any more of his money that he must. Nephew Fred, full of life and true Christmas spirit. Bob Cratchet, poor, but loves his family dearly and welcomes the holidays despite the lack of money.
Scrooge refers to Christmas as a 'humbug'. The true meaning of this word has been lost over the decades, but once you know what it means, it gives you much more insight into Scrooges mind. Humbug means “deceptive or false behaviour”. So when he refers to people or Christmas as a 'humbug', he is saying that they are being false. That they aren't truly happy for Christmas. That they, like him, are only looking to profit from it. Scrooge doesn't necessarily hate Christmas, he simply cannot stand facades, and that is how he views Christmas.
There are a few lines in this book that stick with me, they are powerful words... The first comes from Jacob Marley, “I wear the chains I forged in life, I made them, link by link, yard by yard.” He is referring to his misdeeds in life, they are all represented by heavy chains that he is doomed to wear forever. The other quote comes from a conversation between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past. The Ghost begins to lead Scrooge to the window, and in fear he cries out “But I am but mortal, and liable to fall!” The Ghost replies: “But a touch of my hand, and you shall be upheld in more than this.” Then there are the powerful words spoken by the Ghost of Christmas Present, when he reveals the two children. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom...”
Then there is the transformation of Scrooge. We watch him change. He is bitter at the world until he is visited by Marley, his only friend, and the other Ghosts. They show him his past and he remembers the joys he had long forgotten and sees the mistakes he made, and for the first time feels scorn for himself. He is show the present and how others celebrate Christmas, with pure joy. No falseness, no 'humbug'. He is shown the future and is shown how pathetically he has lived his life. He observes how others perceive him. He learns that he has to power to not only change his own future, but the lives of others.
I believe I have rambled on about this long enough, as you can tell, I have so much love for this story. When I start talking about it, I can't stop! So read this story! Watch the movie, or listen to the audio book. Jim Dale narrates the unabridged version, and does a brilliant job. (Yes, THAT Jim Dale, as in the genius that narrates the Harry Potter books).
Any other Christmas Carol fans out there? Please comment!