(e)Book Read! A Christmas Carol & A Christmas Tree
First sentence: “Marley was dead: to begin with.”
P. 99: “After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being done with.
Last sentence: “And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One.”
I wanted to re-read A Christmas Carol partly because it was mentioned a lot in A Prayer for Owen Meany (and it played a crucial role in this story) that I read a couple of weeks ago, partly because I heard it mentioned a lot on book blogs because it is without doubt one of the books of the season…
And I loved it as much as I did before.
Of course most of you know what it is all about, but for those few who don’t, here a summary of the plot as given on Wikipedia (SPOILERS):
The tale begins on a Christmas Eve in 1843 exactly seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge hates Christmas, calling it “humbug”, refuses his nephew Fred’s dinner invitation, and rudely turns away two gentlemen who seek a donation from him to provide a Christmas dinner for the Poor. His only “Christmas gift” is allowing his overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off with pay – which he does only to keep with social custom, Scrooge considering it “a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!”.
Returning home that evening, Scrooge is visited by Marley’s ghost, who warns him to change his ways lest he undergo the same miserable afterlife as himself. Scrooge is then visited by three additional ghosts – each in its turn, and each visit detailed in a separate stave – who accompany him to various scenes with the hope of achieving his transformation.
The first of the spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past, takes Scrooge to Christmas scenes of his boyhood and youth, which stir the old miser’s gentle and tender side by reminding him of a time when he was more innocent. They also show what made Scrooge the miser that he is, and why he dislikes Christmas.
The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, takes Scrooge to several differing scenes – a joy-filled market of people buying the makings of Christmas dinner, the celebration of Christmas in a miner’s cottage, and a lighthouse. A major part of this stave is taken up with the family feast of Scrooge’s impoverished clerk Bob Cratchit, introducing his youngest son, Tiny Tim, who is seriously ill but cannot receive treatment due to Scrooge’s unwillingness to pay Cratchit a decent wage.
The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, harrows Scrooge with dire visions of the future if he does not learn and act upon what he has witnessed – including Tiny Tim’s death. Scrooge’s own neglected and untended grave is revealed, prompting the miser to aver that he will change his ways in hopes of changing these “shadows of what may be.”
In the fifth and final stave, Scrooge awakens on Christmas morning with joy and love in his heart, then spends the day with his nephew’s family after anonymously sending a prize turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner. Scrooge has become a different man overnight and now treats his fellow men with kindness, generosity and compassion, gaining a reputation as a man who embodies the spirit of Christmas. The story closes with the narrator confirming the validity, completeness and permanence of Scrooge’s transformation.
This story, although written in the middle of the 19th Century, will never lose its appeal, because it deals with human character traits that are of all times. If you haven’t read it, do so now.
First sentence: “I have been looking on, this evening, at a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas Tree.”
Last sentence: “This, in remembrance of me!”
After I finished reading A Christmas Carol, I thought of reading another one of Dickens’ Christmas story and I started this one, not knowing that it was only a short story, a very short one (around 20 pages), and perhaps not even a story, more like an essay. I don’t know what to think about this. The story starts promising enough when Dickens starts remembering Christmas Trees when he was a boy, but somewhere he starts talking about horror stories from the past. This gave the feeling that he wrote this piece (fiction, non-fiction?) without much consideration and thought.
Certainly A Christmas Tree cannot be compared with A Christmas Carol.