Every year, I read through A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. (Many people I know do as well – it’s a time-honoured reading tradition). And every time I read it, something different stands out.
I was struck this year by how much time Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas present spend travelling the world and visiting the homes of the poor. That section never makes it into the cartoon versions.
Or how Scrooge sends the giant Christmas turkey to the Cratchits, but doesn’t follow it up with a visit. He doesn’t need recognition or closure for his good deed – he does it joyfully from his heart. An almost ridiculous joyfulness! With it, he mischievously raises Bob Cratchit’s salary!
There is no other book that makes me smile as much as A Christmas Carol. But it’s also very serious in its portrayal of the systems which keep the poor miserable, and how individual action for change is important, all the year round, not only at Christmastime.
The Christmas Scrooge is hard to live up to, in theory. How am I supposed to help the people around me when I have so many concerns of my own? But the enjoyment Scrooge exudes makes his generosity something accessible for all of us. He buys a turkey for the Cratchits because it tickles him to think of it arriving at their house from out of nowhere! He acts the part of his old self to make Bob think he’s in trouble before shocking him with a raise! Scrooge is a Christmas trickster! And I like that, very much.