Every year around Christmas time— “this rolling time of the year”—I re-read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Part of this comes about because the reading has become my tradition, and traditions, I think, help measure one’s life. I also read it because I feel it’s a lesson to me, a lesson I should heed at my own peril: that I must strive to be a better person, with much greater empathy for people, for that is the book’s ultimate message: we must live humanely midst humanity. Finally, I read it because it never fails to move me. In Scrooge’s redemption, in some mystic sense, is (hopefully) my redemption. For such is the power of great literature. That said, not the least of my pleasures in reading the book is its written perfection.
But as I read A Christmas Carol this year, this pandemic year, this horrible political year, this year of so much suffering, this year which seems a constant cacophony of conspiratorial hate, this year of full-throttle folly, and horrendous horror, all midst constant courage, and heroism, the book seems less a work published on December 19, 1843, than one offered to a needful public on December 19, 2020.
In its simplest sense the book calls upon us to notice the harsh, sad world as it is, to pay attention to “ignorance and want.”
“This Boy is ignorance,” says the ghost of Christmas present. “This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Read A Christmas Carol. It will do you some good. Be well. Be kind. Stay healthy. Keep reading.
Much love to you all,