Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Rating: 4 Stars
It's the most wonderful time of the year…that very special time when a certain segment of the population takes offense to the well-intended ‘Happy Holidays!’, and fumes about putting the Christ back in Christmas. The rest of us are too busy to quibble about such matters being occupied with revving up the shopping carts. After all, economists are on anxious stand-by to measure the pulse of our moribund economy, which rises and falls with consumers’ willingness to max out their credit cards. Isn’t it our patriotic duty to throw frugality to the wind, and dance our way to debt in tune to the marketers’ pied piping?
Bah! Humbug!’ as my favorite miser would say.
Sometimes, I think this great nation could do with a dash of the original spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, who was not such a bad old sort after all, except maybe his priorities were a bit misplaced. But then, I’m rather partial to Literature’s most beloved penny-pincher. To call Scooge thrifty would be a euphemism; he is a tight-fisted man of business, whose true failing is being miserly in spirit, and not merely in spending habits. He neither enjoys the fruit of his labor, nor can he brook the humble joys or infirmities of another. He is, in short, a man badly in need of miraculous redemption.
That’s precisely what he gets: first, in the form of an unwelcome visit from the spirit of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, who gives him dire warning of the consequences of continuing his present course; and then, in succession, visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
This was a tale that was highly popular even during Dickens’ time, when he would read it aloud at well-attended public gatherings. (Dr. Seuss, took a page from his book, and delivered his own kiddie classic, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’) A Christmas Carol’s perennial charm lies in that belief so unshakeable in every die-hard optimist – the basic goodness of man. Smart, funny, feisty Scrooge shouldn’t be consigned to eternal hellfire and damnation; not when a gentle reminder, a long-overdue awakening, and, a timely caution are all that it takes for him to re-examine his life.
Ultimately, this book successfully gets through what religious authorities don’t always convey: that the afterlife is no great cause for concern as long as we’re living our best life, right here, right now. On that note - to those of you who celebrate this season, Merry Christmas!  And to all, peace and joy. May you love truly, spend wisely, and live well.

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