“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”
And with that one line, a classic was born. Not mention the modern notion of Christmas. You see, Christmas was pretty different before this book came out. Hell, the US downright banned anyone celebrating it due to it being mostly a drunken wild party.
As pointed out by The Victorian Web Dickens was “the man who invented Christmas.” Practically everything we associate with the “spirit of Christmas” comes from him. Santa Clause and buying lavish presents is thanks to Coke, Macy’s and Corporate America. It’s because of Hollywood that there are dozens of adaptations of the book.
Why so many adaptations of one book besides the usual money and it being the typical Christmas movie?
The biggest reason can be because the themes of the book ring true to what Christmas stands for. Some people think greed is one theme but, according to the introduction in the Barnes and Nobles Classic edition that comes with The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, Dickens cared little for money. Yes, he was born dirt poor but that was “normal” in his time. He was more concerned with generosity. He didn’t care that you were rich as long as you did the Christian did and gave alms.
Another theme is redemption. Scrooge starts off as an uncaring miser who hates Christmas and treated the poor like dirt to a caring and giving person. At the end he understood that, yes, he’s well off but, as Marley said, “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business.” This is something the common man understands and many wealthy people don’t. This comes back to the whole charity thing mentioned above.
There’s also that famous scene with the Cratchit family. They have very little but are happy. What Dickens is saying is that the poor may not have a lot, but they do have each other and lots of faith.
Put all these themes together and you get what many people consider to be what Christmas is all about.
There are other literary factors to it, too. Mainly the story is very well written. Dickens manages to make every scene memorable and alive, almost as if you’re there yourself. Then there’s the characters. The characters are some of the most memorable characters in literature. They all feel like real people in various different points in life. We all know a Bob Cratchit, a Scrooge and a Fezziwig.
I have a tradition of reading this book every year in December and seeing at least four different adaptations. This has gone on for seven years now. Obsessed maybe, but it’s not as far fetched as watching A Christmas Story marathon every year on Christmas Day. This book and its adaptations have become a tradition around Christmas. It is one of the few escapes from the crazy shoppers at the stores around this time.
If you haven’t read this book yet, give it a shot. It’s only about 80-100 pages depending on the edition and is a quick read despite being written in the 19th century. Also check out some good adaptations of it like Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Muppet Christmas Carol or even Scrooged with Bill Murray.