Book Thoughts: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol was an 1843 Christmas novella by Charles Dickens. There are countless re-printings of this book. The version I have was published in 1994 by Barnes & Noble Books. In addition to all the various printings there are countless adaptations. The adaptation I remember most is the old cartoon by Disney, which featured Disney characters like Mickey Mouse. This book, with the original text, I read much later in high school. I had to read another of Charles Dickens’ books in that same class, Great Expectations. I found that book to be very hard to read. A Christmas Carol was much easier for some reason. Perhaps it was written for children, whereas Great Expectations was written for adults.

In the story, Mr. Scrooge was a cranky old man. He only cared about money. That also meant he only cared about someone if he was getting something in return. He had completely disconnected from all his family and friends. The story took place during Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas. Scrooge was his typical self, attempting to stop the merriness of everyone around him. After the day’s work, he went home for the evening as usual.

Scrooge was having his dinner and settling down to sleep when the ghost of his old partner, Mr. Marley, appeared. Mr. Marley had a dire warning to give to Mr. Scrooge. For every bad action in his life, he built a chain that would slow him down in death. This chain would keep him from Heaven. On top of that three other ghosts would appear at 1 am for three days. Over those three days, he met with a ghost of the past, present, and future. Each one took him to many scenes both of people he knew and people he didn’t know. In some cases he saw himself during other times of his life. Each vision somehow connected with how he had acted earlier that Christmas Eve. Slowly, Scrooge was convinced he was living his life wrong and became a new man.

A Christmas Carol had a “feel-good” story. I always like stories with a happy ending, so I liked this book. It also taught a good lesson to treat others well because our actions can have a big impact over time. I really like this lesson because it applies to the real world. It’s really hard these days to convince someone that doing good is the way to Heaven. So few people are believers now that talking about spiritual things immediately turns them off. If I can tell someone of the practical good that results from good actions, I have a much stronger argument.

A Christmas Carol did a good job of depicting the Christmas Day spirit. This is the one day of the year where most people do pretty good. Of course, people sin every day, but Christmas Day they try to be more agreeable. They might be horrible the day before or after, but this one day they try to be on their best behavior. To me this is a taste of heaven. Heaven will be like this every moment. Everyone will be full of joy and love for one another. There will be no hurt. The good feelings I have during Christmas really motivate me to keep up the good work of growing in holiness.

I hadn’t thought of this before, but A Christmas Carol had some elements that are usually associated with Halloween. A large part of the book was about Mr. Scrooge meeting ghosts that led him to see visions of different times. The story was pretty scary at times. This wasn’t the typical Christmas story. Things were probably very different when Charles Dickens wrote this book. I don’t know when Halloween became a big holiday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was around in the 1800s. Maybe ghosts were commonly associated with Christmas back then. Ghosts were not seen as scary but as good beings that tried to help people.

There was one short scene in the book that I really liked. It happened as the ghost of Mr. Marley was departing Mr. Scrooge. He saw many more ghosts flying this way and that way. Each of them had their own long chains slowing them down just like Mr. Marley. All of them were wailing and moaning about the bad things they had done and how they wish they had done better. According to the story, the only way to remove their chains was to help those still living to do better. This scene was a scary image, but it perfectly described the large cost of sin.

Everyone can understand that a person’s sin hurts the others around them, but sin also hurts the person’s soul itself. Like the book symbolized, each sin committed adds another small chain link to the chain. At first, it’s not much of a burden. The person is free to do what they want, but after many sins the chain becomes heavy and immobilizing. The person starts to lose their free will. They become a slave to sin. This is pretty much what all humans go through. The best ones, the saints, learn the truth and strive to be good people. The worst end up falling further into sin until they cannot understand how anything they do is wrong. Most people are somewhere in between.

I am lucky enough to have learned some of God’s wisdom. I’m not perfect, but I actively try to become better on a regular basis. I hope over time that I can grow in holiness. I have made some progress, but I wouldn’t say it’s huge progress. I hope that on my deathbed, I can look back at a long life of improvement and feel good about what I did. Of course, I will continue to sin, and it will always be sad to remember how I hurt others, but I want to look back and have more good actions than bad actions. The reward for all of this is an eternal place in heaven. I am very excited about my future because I see so many possibilities for good. There are so many people that I can help. I’m not where I want to be yet, but someday I will. I look forward to every good deed I can do.

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