I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses, pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. ~Their faithful servant, C. D.
This is the preface of “A Christmas Carol” written by Charles Dickens in December 1843. Social concerns motivated much of Dickens’ writing, and this enduring Christmas tale or in his words “ghostly little book,” leads his causes for justice well. Dickens illustrated the plight of the poor during England’s economic depression, and indeed, left a “ghost of an idea” that the “better-off” of society should take care of those less fortunate, especially on Christmas.
It was not peace and goodwill completely, however, that drove Dickens to write “A Christmas Carol.” His last novels were not selling well, and his wife was pregnant with their fifth child. He was forced to make some quick money. Although the book became immediately popular, it was illustrated in color which raised the price. In the end, the novel did not bring in the profit Dickens desired.
Still, the magical tale endures.
Imagine writing a story so memorable, so compelling that generations of literate people of the Western World would embrace its meaning and remember its characters by name decade after decade. Hats off to Charles Dickens! Thank you, Chuck!
Who knows how many times the story has been read or re-enacted since it was penned in the dim light and strain of England’s economic struggles in the 1840’s.
Last evening, my husband and daughter and I saw Disney’s remake of the Christmas tale starring Jim Carrey in 3D at an IMAX theater, and it was brilliant. I want to see it again. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. The old themes sprang to life again in my heart: the brevity of the past that is out like a candle and that we will pay for our actions with “chains” someday; the huge merriment of the present, and the fear and sometimes eeriness of the future. And no one wants to be forgotten at their death because their deeds were selfish. And lastly, the joy of giving and just how each individual has the power to change the world and his own disposition by giving to others.
As believers this is the message we live by everyday… an unspoken code of conduct that directs our choices. But I must say, as I watched the movie I had the response that old Charles Dickens was hoping for, that “ghost of an idea” planted new seeds in my heart that I need to give to others of myself, my time, and my finances to bring God’s kingdom to the earth.
In fact, that is the job entrusted to us by our Lord and Savior the day he ascended. Christmas is just a good season to reaffirm with action our duty.