Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Illinois Office
Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has been a Christmas favorite in my family for as long as I can remember. Other endearing Christmas novellas like those we’ve read about earlier this week have become favorites in more recent years, but this one has been around the longest. First written in 1843, this beloved novella has never gone out of print. That’s quite a statement.
As a child, I was intrigued by the cultural word pictures Dickens painted and the “funny” way those people talked. I loved looking at the beautiful color pictures of the buildings, the people dressed in the fashion of the day, and Tiny Tim with his family. Although they were poor and he was crippled and ill, fun and laughter filled their little home. This image stood in stark contrast to Ebenezer Scrooge, rich, sour, and alone.
We’re all familiar with the story so I don’t need to go into it. But did you know that Dickens had to go to work in a factory when he was only twelve to help pay for his father’s debts? He wrote the book to publicize the abhorrent treatment and suffering of London’s poor as a result of the 1834 Poor Law Reform Act, which actually worsened conditions for the poor and homeless.
His efforts were successful. A Christmas Carol was read by millions and applauded for its appeal to treat the poor justly. This little story stirred hearts and rekindled a spirit of good cheer and kindness during that particularly dreary phase of Victorian England. William Thackeray, a well-known author at the time, called it “a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness.”
What is it about the story that causes it to endure for 167 years and counting? We know the quick answer: It and others like it reveal truths about ourselves and show the way to redemption. For Christians, Scrooge’s change of heart is a model of our salvation experience in Christ and new life beyond. So I’ll read it again this year, take joy in God’s greatest gift, and look for ways to pass it along to others.
Ah, the power of a good story!
Do you recall the first time you read A Christmas Carol? Are there other Christmas stories that made a lasting impression on you?