December Meetup: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Yesterday, our lovely group met at Hudson Grille to discuss a Christmas classic.  Hudson was an emergency, last-minute venue we had to share with boisterous Falcons fans and cruising cougars, but we made it work – always nice to add a little Dickensian class to a sports bar!

Everyone is familiar with the plight of A Christmas Carol’s plot.  Old Mr. Scrooge, miserly accountant that he is, has a hardened heart and the Christmas season finds him not only unable to empathize with his fellow man, but also without the range of emotion common to most humans.  His BAH HUMBUG fills the night air, overshadowing the carol singers and Merry Christmas wishers of his village.  He’s reluctant to give his employee Christmas day off and has no time for his pesky nephew’s dinner invitation.  All this changes, as we know, with the visitation of 4 ghosts.

Everyone loved the novella.  Despite seeing several movie versions and stage productions, we still felt enchanted and surprised by the source material.  Dickens wrote a seriously creepy little tale – we agreed that the scene of the starving children appearing out of the robes of of Christmas Present was poignantly disturbing and perhaps the most interesting scene left out of many adaptations.  The ghost of Christmas Past with his changeable appearance mimicing the malleable nature of memories genuinely frightens and the ominous spirit of Christmas Future without a face and marked by silence warns of the dark unknown that lies ahead.

We were surprised at how easily Scrooge changed his ways.  Seemingly, after the visit from Christmas Present he was jumping at the chance to lighten his spirit and to begin bettering his ways.  We also wondered at the discrepancy between the somewhat minor role Tiny Tim plays in the novel and the inflated roll he always finds himself in on the movie screen. We soon found ourselves delving into the obvious Christian parallels within the story especially with the three ghosts resembling the Holy Trinity.

No matter what your religious beliefs, A Christmas Carol is a fable for everyone.  At its foundation, Dickens wrote a moral tale of the strength of humanity and the ability of good to overcome evil no matter how deep that evil seems to have taken root.  As a group, I think we’d love to remind people that while watching the film every holiday season has become tradition for so many families (the Mickey Mouse version seems to be a favorite!), nothing can beat Dickens’ original story so don’t be afraid to switch off the television and pick up this wonderful book.

On a side note:  Dickens is often an intimidating author for many people due to his word count, Victorian prose, and numerous characters to keep straight.  A Christmas Carol is a great place for a Dickens virgin to begin.  Knowing the plot will allow new readers to focus more on the language and imagery instead of stressing over what’s happening in regards to story.  Reading aloud always helps – so grab the kids, your spouse, or even your fur-children and get reading!

Next month we’ll be reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Looking forward to a great discussion of magic, mayhem, and the Big Top!